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A. M., H. A. M. 

Astfaor of the Life of Ricbabd Hxnbt Lex. 

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Diifrfer OerVt Offlet, 

BEIT MMSUBSHm tl»t «n tfK fint day of totcnrtier. A. D. 1999, In the flibr-fimrth 

Cir«f the Intein^cfMTor the UnTied BtMet vi KwtiX^m^U 8c UHjr/of the «id DUtrkt, 

the woida following;, fo tp|/ f ^ * -r -» 

** Life of AithoT Lee, LL. D. Joint CMDinlwtoMr of the Uailetd Slalce to the Coort of Tnmoe, 
md Sole Commistioner tu the Couiti of Snin and Prutsu , diirine^ the Revolutitinarr War, with hb 
PbUtieel and Litcnry CcmuMndeiMe, and hU Panen on Diplonuitie and FoliUcal Subjects, and the 
Allhin <^tlK Umted Stttevdunnc the Mme Pttiod. Bj Riehaid Heuy Lee, A. M. H. A. M. Aa- 
tfaor of the Life of Racfaaid Hairy Lee." 

Id CQuAimSty to the Act of the ConneM of the United States entitled <* An Act for tte «n- 
eonramnent or Learning, far K c mim the Copies of Mapa, Charti and Booki, to the Aathon and 
nmpneton of lodi Co^ei, aoiinfl; the Cinwe therein mentiooed {** and aho to an Act, entitled. ** An 
net eapplcmemacy to an Aet, entitled An Aet for the cnoootaipenau of Lcaminib by •ccorlng the 
C opi ci ol Mapi, Chartt and Books, to the Aathon and Pnorieronof sach Conies dotiog the tinses 
dioein mendonedi and octending tlw Benefits tlaoof to tl« Arts of Designinib Eo n a r im, and 
BichiiiK Hislarlcal, and other Prints.** 

JKa W. DAYI8, 
Clerk ffcAc DUtrkt 9fr 




Permit me to dedicate to you the following Memoir 
of the Life of Arthur Lee. 

Yourself a patriot and a scholar, a statesman and 
a diplomatist, you will find the writings of Arthur Lee 
breathing a spirit of patriotism congenial with your 
own ; possessing a vigour and an elegance of style you 
will feel and admire ; while you will trace, in the his- 
tory of his life, labours that you will know how to ap- 
preciate, and services similar to those which, like him^ 
you have rendered to our common country. 

Your fellow citizen, 


Leetburgy Sept. 1828. 

oowTBirTS or vol. i. 


Birth and perentagd of Arthur Lee^Is sent to England — ^Hegoea through 
the Academie course of stody at Eton — ^He heeomea a student of the Uni^ 
vecaiij of £dinboigh — ^His literarj and professional studies at the Univer^ 
mtf — ^He obtains a Diploma, and the degree of M. D., and the Botanical 
Prize — ^His Botanical Treatise in Latin is published by a Decree of the 
Uuiversity — ^He travels through Holland and Germany, and returns to 
Virginia and commences the practice of Medicine — Leaves the practice 
of physic, and returns to England — Studies law in London — ^Becomes a 
practitioner of law with Donuing, Glynn, Alleyne — ^His literary and 
scientific friends, Jones, Burke, Price, &c — ^Is made a member of the 
Boyal Society — ^Becomea a popular writer on ** American duestions'* — 
His Letters Junius Americanus, and Monitor's Letters — ^Is made a mem« 
ber of the « Society of the Bill of Rights'* — ^Writes their Address to the 
People of England — ^His Address to the English People, signed ** An old 
Member of Parliament" — ^His controversy with Junius, on the right of 
Parliament to tax Americar— Letter to his brother on public Ai&in. . p. 11 


Political contentions between the Ministerial and Opposition partiea in Eng- 
land — ^The Lord Mayor of London, Crosby, and Alderman Oliver are 
committed to the Tower, by order of the Commons — The Society of 
the Bill of Rights vote their thanks to Crosby and Oliver, and an Ad- 
dress to them — ^Lee is appointed to draught the Address and prepares it — 
It is accepted and published — ^The Address — ^Its style, Ace. — ^It is admired 
-^He is appointed Colonial Agent of Maasacba8ettB> in ctuie of the death 



or absence of Dr. Franklin — Ib retained by the Afleinbly of that Pro- 
vince to aapport their Petition to the King» to remoTO the Governor and J 
Lieut. Governor — ^Dr. Franklin's trial before the King and Conncil, 
respecting the publication of certain letters — On the return of Doctor j 
Franklin, he becomes the Agent for the Province— Remains of a history J 
of the Revolntion, by Mr. Lee. — ^His services to the Province of Massar 
chasetts, and the generoos conduct of its Assembly — ^He becomes a friend 
and correspondent of Samuel Adams — ^The character of their correspond- 
ence — ^Letter of Dr. Rush — ^Letter on American affiura of Lee, to his 
brother in Viiginia — Anecdote of Lee and Wedderburne — ^The Petition 
to the King and the Addresses of thd first Congress are sent to Lee, to 
be presented and published — ^Letter of Bnrke on this subject — ^Anecdotes 
and letters of Lee respecting the reception of these Papers, by the King 
and People of England — Letter of the second Congress to Lee and Penn» 
with another Address^— The case of Mr. Lovell-^^is letter to tfer. Lte — 
Their sobseqnent friendship and correspondence. . p. 29 


Mr. Lee is appointed in Dec. 1775b leflret Agent of Congress— -Letter of 
the "Secret CorresiMndiiig Committee'* of Congress, acquainting him 
of the appointment and the purpose of it — ^His Intorviews with the French 
Minister at London — He goes to France as secret Agent, in the ipridg 
of the year 1776— His interviews with Veigennes and Tuigot — nnv Av 
suit of hii MiMioM— In tbe fall of 1T76, he is appointed a Joint Com- 
miMioner to the court of Fkance, with Dr. Fianklia and Siktf Deane— 
Letter to Lord Shelbume— Interesting Anecdote of Voltaiso— *Agenoy for 
the Stale of Virginia — ^His learned and politioal friends in ffVa&oe, Ton 
got, Adanson, Veigennes, Neckar, Breteuil, 4cc.-^tate of AflSuta in 
America in the winter of 1776-7— ^Memorial on this snbjeoty from tbe 
American Commissioners to the Court of France— Written by Mr. Leo' 
Note of tbe Commissioners to the same, touehing the captvre of an Ame- 
rican vessel on the coast of France— Bfr. Lee is appointed sole Commit 
sioner to the Court of Madrid — Goes to Spain-^Is desired by that Court 
not to proceed to Madrid,— 'His letters to the Commiasionen in Paris« 
from Victoria in Spain — ^Their Reply written by Dr. F^anklinp— The Bri- 
tish Court remonstrates with that of Spain against the reception of Mr. 
Lee— His Correspondence on this snbject—His Memorial to the Court of 
Spain on the subject of his Mission — ^Results of it — He returns to Paris- 
Is sent to Berlin as Commissioner to the court of PAosifr— Letter from Ber- 
lin to General Washingtonr— Spanish Papon. .... 62 


Difficulties in the way of aegotiattoni with the PMsian Cowt-^-^eCe to the 
Prime Mhfeister the oelebrated Scfaalenbpit— Memeiie of Mr* Lee to the 
king of FMHkH-iUbbeiy of hif jpapenat UMtk^Ax^t/^pfkk^ note of 

VnAmk the Gieat to Mir. Lee— He permits him to hold free though 
aeeret conlerences with his Minister— Negotiatione with the Pmarian Conit 
— CoRespondence of Schidenbnig — ^The results of Mr. Lee*s missioii to 
Fr—tfi His iiitvni to Pt ri s iH ie soivaspoiideiiee with Ynigwiess lespeoU 
ing sapplies of arms, &c. for Virgioia — ^His letter hy ofdet of his eeU 
leegaes to Lord North respecting the treatment of American prisoners—- 
His letter to the Eari of Shelbame on this sabject— His spirited Memorial 
to the Prime Minister of Spain on the subject of the ProclamatioD of the 
British Comroisueners in the United States, threatening a war of exter- 
mination — ^Memorial of the American CommisBionerB to the French 
Conit is sent by Mr. Lee with a diplomatic note to the Spanish Minister 
at Peris — ^The object of Mr. Lee in this — Letters of Mr. Lee on the sub- 
jeet of the eaptnre of Bnrgoyne-— Letter to the Marqnls of Hosignan — ^An- 
ecdote of Dr. Tonng and Voltaire — ^Letter to Sir William Jones. p. 89 


The aAet ef the captnva of Swgoyse in France aad other parts of En- 
rope-— TIm FVsBck Conit resolves on a Treaty of Alliance with the Unit- 
ed States— Debates on the snbject of the 11th and ISth Articles of the 
Treaty — Mr. Lee lefnses to concur with bis eolleagnes in these Articles 
—The French Conrt consents that congress may strike them ont of the 
Treaty without affecting its validity — Congress concurs with Mr. Lee and . 
gfcrlk«sr tmt those Articles — Mr. Lee's efforts to induce Spain to join the 
Atffsnce — He procnres a secret and separate Article from the French 
Conrt in relation to Spain — ^His endeavoars to procure a loan of two mil- 
lions of ponnds sterling firom Spain for congress— -His correspondence 
with Mens. Domes of HoUand — ^Intrignes of British secret Agents in Paris 
— Mr. Lee detects and exposes them — ^Invitation of the Congress to Dr. 
Price, to remove to America and become a citizen of the United States 
— Mr. Lee's letter and Price's reply — Sketch of the labonrs and services 
of Mr. Lee while in France — ^Hts jonmal of negotiations with the French 
and Spanish minister — His correqiondence with Congress — ^Retnm of Mr. 
Lee to America ; causes of it — His arrival and reception in the United 
Stateo— His reception by Congress — He is elected a member of the Vir- 
ginia Assembly, and is chosen by that body a delegate to Congress— Is 
appointed by Congress a Commissioner to treat with ail the northwestern 
tribes of Indians — ^Is chosen by Congress one of the Board of Treasoiy, 
at which he continned firom the year 1784 to 1789^— His retiremen^^ 
His continned correspondenee with eminent foreign persone of distinc- 
tion—His literary hononn— His death and character. 128 


Earty letters of Arthur Lee, written principally from the year 1767 to his 
departure from LondcA in 1776, on British and American politics during 
that period, 185 


NO. n. 

The eommeneemeiit of a Memoira of the Ameiican Rerolvtion, which Mr. 
Lee did not liye to complete, p. 248 

NO. ni. 

Spamah Papen, 27T 

NO. IV. faj 

Iiutnictioiui to Benjamin Franklin* 8i1afi Peane, and Arthur Lee, ComiDiB- 
Biooers appointed by the Congress of the United States of America to the 
Court of France, 280 

(&) Extracts from the Journal of Mr. Lee. Journal continued, . S88 . 

{c) Continuation of Extracts from the Journal of Arthur Lee, kept by him 
while he was a Commissioner of the United States, at the Court of 
Franc©, '...•.•....• 404 

6nppUeB for the State ofVifginja, 418 

(d) Memoure to the French Conrt, 480 




The truest wealth of nations consists in the charac- 
ter and deeds of their great men. It is these, which 
impart to their histories more interest than any other 
subject which they present to our contemplation. The 
histories of the republics of ancient times, especially 
those of Greece and Rome, continue to this distant 
day to be read with intense interest. Who does not 
recognise the pleasure imparted to his mind, by an ac- 
quaintance with the; characters and actions of their he- 
roes? The mind delights to dwell on the characters 
of the "mighty dead," and glows with pleasure at the 
remotest allusion to any event, which recalls to the re- 
collection, Solon and Socrates, Leonidas and Philopoe- 
mon, Decius and Cincinnatus, Cicero and Thrasea! 
The glory of the " nursing mother of the 4th Henry 
and the 12th Lewis, will henceforth burnish into bright- 
er light, at the name of Lafayette.'' How proud is 
the Briton of his Newton and Locke, his Hampden 
and Chatham ! How shall the consciousness of free- 
dom and glory throb in the heart and glow on the 
cheek of an American, at the name of a revolutionary 
worthy ! Distant nations exult in whatever approxi- 
mates them to the fame, or characterizes them with a 
feature of the "country of Washington!'' 

VOL. I. 2 


X preface- 

To accumulate the examples of great and good citi- 
zens ; to revive and perpetuate a just sense of their 
services ; to excite and cherish national sentiments and 
sympathies, and thus to add to the glory (the moral 
wealth) of our country, is no unworthy task. These 
are prevalent motives with one, who, with diffidence 
submits to his fellow-citizens a memoir of the life of 
Arthur Lee, one of the useful and distinguished men 
of the great era of our nation. These motives will be 


justly appreciated by every intelligent, and cheered by 
every virtuous reader. 


Of biography it may be said, as truly as of history, 
that it is "philosophy teaching by example." The 
force of example is known to have a powerful influ- 
ence in impressing the he^trt; and is thus elSective in pro- 
ducing laudable emulation and virtuous imitation. If 
the ^thor of this memoir of a great and distinguished 
patriot shall have succeeded in presenting his char- 
acter in a light so pleasing and impressive, as to pro- 
duce, in any degree, the designed effect of biographical 
writing, he will have accomplished the end of bis la- 
bours, and enjoy their best reward. 





Birth and parentage of Arthar Lee— If tent to En'gland — He goefl through ^e Aca- 
demic coime of Btady at Etonr^— He become a student of the Univenitjr of Edin- 
bmgh-— Ub titerary and profemonal ■tadies at the Uniyer^ity — ^He obtaina a Di- 
ploma, and the (fejgree o£ M.D., and the Botanical Prize — ^His Botanical Treatise 
in Latin is pnblisfaed by a Decree of the UniTereity— He travels through Holland 
and Germany, and returns to Virginia and commences the practice of Medicine-^ 
Leaves the practice of physic, and returns to England — Studies law in London — 
Becomes a practitioner ^f law with Dunning, Glynn, Alleyne — ^His literary and 
•deatific friends, Jones, Burke, Price, &c.-i-Is made a member of the Royal So* 
ciety — Becomes a popular writer on'** American Questions*' — His Letters Juniua 
AmericanuB, and Monitor's Letteis — ^Is made a Member of the « Society of the 
BiU of Rights"— Writes their Address to the People of England— His Address to 
the English People, signed <* An old Member of Parliament" — ^His controyeray 
with Joniuj, on the right of Pariiament to tax America — ^Letter to his brother on 
public Afhin. 

Arthur Li;p was the youngest son of Thomas Lee 
and Hannah his wife, who were of the county of West-- 
moreland, 5ind colony of Virginia. He was born on the 
20th of December, in the year of our Eord 1740. 

His ancestors were English; and the first of them, 
who came to Virgihia, were among the earliest emi- 
grants to that colony. Arthur. was brother of Richard 
Henry Lee, of whose character and services his country 
IS informed. Arthur was the youngest son of the family ; 
and, according to the customs of that day, in regard to 


the younger sons, was left, until an advanced period of 
boyhood, with the children of his father's slaves ; to par- 
take of their fare, and to participate in their hardy sports 
and toils. Hence his body was early inured to hardship, 
and his mind accustomed to unrestrained exercise and 
bold adventure. 

His father dying, when he was only ten years of age, 
Arthur was left to the care of his eldest brother. His 
early education was conducted by a private teacher, who, 
at the same time, taught his brothers, Richard Henry, 
Francis, and William, who, like himself, acted conspicu- 
ous and useful parts in our revolutionary struggle. His 
eldest brother, who had been educated in England, and 
was acquainted with the literary institutions of that coun- 
try, sent him while yet quite young to Eton College, 
then considered the best grammar school in England. In 
this school, some of the greatest statesmen and scholars 
of England received their fundamental education* * Many 
of them were cotemporaries and friends of Mr. Lee. It 
was at this time, and probably still is customary at the 
English seminaries, with the nobility and rich common- 
ers, to employ the teachers to give their sons private les- 
sons, on the subjects taught in the public course. Young 
Lee had not this advantage when he commenced his 
studies ; but such were the eagerness and success with 
which he pursued them, that one of the principal teachers 
proposed to him to superintend his studies. He grateful- 
ly accepted the kind offer ; and of the advantages it af- 
forded him, he diligently availed himself. His farther hav- 
ing always intended him for the medical profession, he 
was sent, as soon as he had completed his studies at 
Eton, to Edinburgh, and became a student of the Uni- 
versity at that city. The chairs of this celebrated insti- 
tution were then filled by the tnost learned men of their 
age. Among the most prominent stood Cullen, Munro, 
Black, &c. ; imperishable names ! Arthur Lee went 
through the course of. general science and polite lite- 
rature prescribed in that institution. He subsequent- 
ly devoted himself to the several branches of the 
medical department. Among the many studious and 


accomplished scholars, who were graduated with him, 
Mr. Lee was distinguished. He obtained a diploma, ap- 
proving him, as a general scholar, and conferring on him 
the degree of M.D. The chair of botany (which had 
been lately endowed) was filled by Dr. Black, so well 
known to chemists. At every commencement several of 
the most eminent scholars became competitors for a 
golden medal, the prize bestowed upon the author of the 
best treatise on some botanical topic. Mr. Lee entered 
his name as one of the competitors for this prize, and ob- 
tained it. The subject of his treatise was the botanical 
characters qnd medicinal uses of Peruvian bark. It was 
written in latin, according to the prescribed usage, 
and is a very respectable specimen of pure and correct 
latinity. It was so much approved that it was " decreed?^ 
to be published, under the direction and authority of the 

Mr. Lee was always fond of the science of botany. 
His reputation for acquirements in it, gained hhn the ac* 
quaintance and correspondence of many learned men, 
among whom was the scientific French naturalist and ac- 
ademician, Adajison*^ The author found among the MSS. 
of Mr. Lee a letter from Adanson to him, enclosing a leaf 
of some recently discovered plant, and containing the ex- 
pression of a hope, that Mr, Lee would become the 
Botanist of America. 

The literary honour of a diploma conferred by the 
University of Edinburgh, at all times a great one, was 
particularly valuable and honourable at this period. On 
this diploma are the names above .mentioned, together 
with those of Gregory, Young, Hope, Hunter, the two 
Robertsons, Ferguson, Blair, Stewart, &c.* The course 
of learning taught in this university was extensive, and 
was required to be thoroughly studied. The candidates 
for graduation and honours were strictly examined by the 
most eminent professors of their day. 

While Mr. Lee resided in Edinburgh he became inti- 
mately acquainted with- Lord Cardross, afterwards Earl 

* It if deposited with the rcfltof Mr. Lee'i MSS. in Cambridge Univenity, VLm. 
The namealffe aatographic. 


Bochan. The well informed American will recognize 
this name. He will recognize it as the name of one of 
the earliest, warmest, and steadiest friends of the colo- 
nies,^in their disputes with the mother country. This 
great man, so distinguished for his philanthropy, for his 
love of freedom and attachment to its assertors, it is well 
known, entertained the most generous wishes for the suc- 
cess of^ur republican systems of government, after the re- 
cognition of our independence by his nation. His letters, 
which the reader will find amongst the foreign corre- 
spondence of Mr. Lee, will certainly interest him. He 
will find that it had been the intention of the Earl of 
Buchan, to emigrate before the revolution, to Virginia, 
and reside permanently in that colony. Mr. Lee enjoy- 
ed the friendship and correspondence of this estimable 
man, until the period of the death of the earl. 

Previously to Mr. Lee's return to his native country, 
he travelled through Holland and Germany. A. short 
sketch of his journey through Holland remcdns, and 
contains a very pleasing account of the appearance ot 
that country, of the manners and customs of its inhab- 
itants ; of the principal cities, and of the many monu- 
ments which adorn their public squares, erected by a 
wise people, to the memory of their great and useful 

Soon after Mr. Lee returned to Virginia, he com- 
menced the practice of physic, in the city of Williams- 
burg, at that time the metropolis of the colony. In 
this profession, he soon acquired reputation and practice. 
But, although he had found the study of medicine agree- 
able, the practice pf it did not suit the peculiar bias of his 
mind, which inclined towards political subjects. The 
contest, which was soon to convulse an empire, was, even 
now, descried by many who were jealous of English lib- 
erty and rights. Mr. Lee's brothers, particularly his bro- 
ther Richard Henry, were taking a part in the politics of 
the day, which had brought them into public notice, and 
evinced their decided purpose, to assert, through all dan- 
gers, the rights of their country. His ardent mind caught 
their enthusiasm. He determined to return to England ; 
to fix himself in London, the centre of political inform- 



ation, and there to aid, by his utmost exertions, the 
cause of American liberty. For this end, he purposed 
to commence in that city the study of the law, a profes- 
sion, which, while it might enable him to support him- 
self, would make him acquainted with international law, 
and the peculiar structure of the British constitution, as 
well as of the municipal laws of England, and thus fit 
him to take an intelligent and useful part in the great 
political questions about to be so warmly discussed in 
that country and in the colonies. That this course of 
his life and studies, enabled him to become a powerful 
advocate of the rights of his native country, and a wise 
negotiator in the management of its concerns with for- 
eign nations in its hour of trial and need, the subse- 
quent part of this Memoir will afford honourable and in- 
teresting evidence. 

In pursuance of the determination which Mr. Lee had 
^formed of going to London, he left Virginia about the 
^ year 1766, and settled in that city. He immediately 
commenced the study of the law, as a student of one of 
the inns of court. Although he applied his mind to this 
study, with his usual application and vigour, he did not 
neglect his literary and political pursuits. While he was 
a student in the temple, he became an intimate friend 
and associate of Mr. William Jones, (afterwards the just- 
ly celebrated Sir William), who was, at this time too, 
a student of law. They were fond of literature, and 
agreeably diversified their professional studies, with the 
varied reliefs afforded by literary lucubrations, and sci- 
entific investigation. Mr. Lee always considered his 
acquaintance with Sir William Jones, one of the hap- 
piest incidents of his life ; and his correspondence, as a 
soOrce of his greatfest gratification. Their intimacy con- 
tinued throughout their lives, as the reader will see from 
the correspondence of Mr.. Lee with his foreign friends, in 
the appendix of this work. From one of Sir William's 
letters,* the reader will learn, that he had intended, on his 
return from India, to travel through the United States, 
whose rights he early acknowledged, whose struggle he 

* See Appendix. 


had beheld with anxious interest, and whose free insti- 
tutions of government, he greatly admired. His prin- 
ciples, and his good will to the people of the United 
States, are every where evinced in the letters of this 
truly great and good man.* 

Mr, Lee continued the study of the law from the year 
1766, to the year 1770. He had, during this period, 
become extensively acquainted with the most eminent 
legal characters of London, among whom were Dunning, 
Glynn, and AUeyne. He was warmly and profitably 
patronized by Dunning and Glynn ; and obtained and 
enjoyed a lucrative practice, from the year 1770, until 

* The author could not deny himself the pleasare (in which he is sure of the 
cheerful participation of every reader) of inserting here the following, no leas tme, 
than beautiful tribute, to the character and genius of Sir William Jones, contained 
in a veiy fine prize poem of Mr. Charles Grant. This poem gained the prize given 
by^Dr. sachanan, to the best poem on the subject *< of the restoration of learning ia 
the east*" 

<* Accomplished Jones ! whose hand to every ait, 
Could unknown charms and nameless grace impart. 
' His was the soul by fear, nor interest swayed. 
The purest passions, and the wisest head— « 
The heart so tender ; and the wit so true. 
Yet this no malice, that no weakneas knew. 
His song to virtue, as the muses dear. 
Though glowing, chaste ; and lively, though severe. 
/ W^t guigeoua trophies crown his youthful bloom> 

The spoils august of Athens and of Rome. 
And lo ! untouched by British brows before. 
Yet nobler triumphs wait on Asians shore. 
There, at his magic voice, what wonders rise. 
The astonished east unfolds her mysteries — 
His are the triumphs of her ancient lyres, 
Her tragic sorrows, and her epic fires ; 
Her earliest arts, and learning's sacred store. 
And strains sublime of philosophic lore ; 
Bright in her view their gathered pomp appears. 
The treasured wisdom of a thousand years. 
> Ah! could my verse, in characters of day. 
The living colours of thy mind pourtray. 

And on the sceptic, midst his impious dreams, • 

Flash all the brightness of their mingled beams. 
Then should he know, how talents various, bright. 
With pure devotion's holy thoughts unite. 
And blush (if yet a blush survive) to see 
What genius, honour, virtue, ought to be ! 
Philosopher, yet to no system ti^. 
Patriot, yet friend to all the world beside. 
Ardent of temper, yet of judgment bold. 
Firm, though not stormy, and though correct, pot cold ; 
Profound to reason, and tor charm ns, gay, 
Learned, without jpride ; yet not too wise to pray,** 

I . 


he left England in 1776, to reside in Paris, as secret ^ 
agent of the old Congress. He had become during the 
same period, a conspicuous political writer. His fame 
as a writer was diffused through England, by a series of 
letters under the signature of Junius Americanus ; and 
fame and popularity had been attracted to his name by 
a series signed " Monitor's Letters ;" of both series, 
more will be said hereafter. His letters under the first 
signature, were published in England, and were chiefly 
intended for English readers. They procured the ac- 
quaintance and friendship of Burke, Dr. Price, Horn, 
Mrs. M'Cauley, Col. Barre, &c. &c. 

While Mr. Lee was still a student of law, he was ad- 
mitted into several literary clubs, and acquired in their 
associations, the respect and intimacy of many of the 
literati of London. He was at length elected a Fellow - 
of the Royal Society. When* he left England, to de- 
vote himself to the interests of his native country, he 
wrote a letter of resignation of his membership, to Sir 
Joseph Banks, then the president of the society, and 
assigns this reason, as the one inducing him to resign, 
that he did not think it consistent with his duty to his 
country, then at war with England, to continue his con- 
nexion with any institution of that nation, * especially 
where the duties due to it, would require him to make 
pecuniary, as well as literary contributions to it. Sir 
Joseph's letter in reply to him, controverts the force of 
his reasons, by alleging^ the difference between literary 
and scientific societies, and political associations ; that 
the objects and interests of the former were universal ; 
belonging to the republic of letters, and to the commu-? 
nity of man and mind, while the latter related to a par- 
ticular people and to conflicting subjects. Mr. Lee's, 
scruples may have been more fastidious than substantial ; 
but still, they were really felt, from that intense devo- 
tion to his country, which he habituated his mind to 
cherish, while that country was contending with Eng- 
land for political freedom. The author has given above, 
the ideas which Sir Joseph intended to express. He has 

VOL. L '3 


not inserted his letter, because those ideas are conveyed 
in a dull and uninteresting style. 

The author has in Jiis possession, some sketches of Mr. 
Lee's legal arguments, which evince bis acuteness and 
extensive learning, as a lawyer. He was enjployed with 
Glynn ^nd Dunning in the case of the watermen of Lon- 
don, which excited great interest at the time, for the 
argument not only agitated the question of the existence 
of the privilege claimed by that class of people in Lon- 
don, exempting them, as inhabitants of that city, from 
the royal prerogative of impressing seamen, but it in- 
volved the constitutionality of the prerogative itself. 
The reader will, in another part of this Memoir, meet 
with a • letter of Mr. Lee to Sir William Jones, who, 
afterwards, was retained in the same cause, in which Mr. 
Lee gives Sir William an outline of his argument,' Mr. 
Jones thanks him for the aid it had afforded him, in the 
investigation of the subject. The author has the only 
accurate and full report ever made, of the famous case of 
Perrin & Blake, of the arguments, and of the opinions 
of the judges, in the King's Bench. This report was 
taken by Serjeant Glynn, and presented to Mr. Lee, by 
that great lawyer. Mr. Lee was also retained, to ap- 
pear at the bar of the House of Commons, by the Di- 
rectors of the East India Company, on an occasion of 
great interest to that body. 

The reader well remembers the questions of constitu- 
tional controversy, which arose between the colonies and 
the mother country, during the period from 1764 to the 
year 17(59, on the subject of taxation. The declaratory 
act and the stamp acts were the statutes asserting, and 
intended to enforce, the arbitrary principle so obnoxious 
to the people of the colonies, " that the legislature of 
Great Britain had a right to tax the people of the colo- 
nies, without their consent, given by representatives, 
chosen by themselves." Mr. Lee became a warm dis- 
putant in these controversies ; and wrote ably and suc- 
cessfully against this principle. Of his writings on these 
subjects, then so intensely interesting to his countrymen, 
and so vitally important to their freedom and prosperity, 


his ^^ Monitor's Letters, addressed to the people of the ^ 
colonies ,* his letters signed ^^ Junius Aniericanus," and 
** an Appeal to the English nation," were greatly admir- 
ed, and extensively circulated and read, in Great Britain, v ' 
and in the colonies. The cheap pamphlets, in which 
these pieces were collected and circulated, went through 
several editions. They were printed by several associa-^ 
tions and public corporations in England. His Monitor's 
Letters have long been allowed to have had an effect 
upon the public mind, equal to that produced by the 
" Farmer's Letters,'^ and Paine's " Common Sense." 
Such was the' celebrity of his " Appeal to the English 
nation," that it was for a long time, attributed in Eng- 
land, to Lord Chatham. It is feigned to be written by 
an "Old Member of Parliament." These writings of 
Mr. Lee contain sound constitutional principles, applied 
by vigorous arguments, illustrated by learned and accu- 
rate researches into the history and laws of England and 
the colonies, and conveyed in a style cogent and classical. 
The Monitor's Letters were written for the especial pe- 
rusal of the people of America ; and were intended to 
warn them of the real designs of the ministry, and the 
ruinous consequences of them, to the interests and rights 
of the colonies. The letters signed " Junius America- 
nus" were intended for the English public. Hence the 
reader will remark, they contain more of what may be 
termed English politics, than it would seem necessary 
to be mingled with the questions immediately bearing 
on the colonial controversy. Mr. Lee thus explains this 
seemingly inappropriate association of topics, in a letter 
to his brother R. H. Lee. " It is a chance, whether you 
ever meet with a series of letters signed Junius Ameri- 
canus in which the enemies of America are chiefly at- 
tacked ; though to make what was written in defence of 
the colonies acceptable^ it was necessary, now and then, 
to aim a stroke at characters obnoxious here. It is desir- 
able, to make a signature popular ; when, that is done, I 
shall be able to write under it with success, which, 
otherwise, it is extremely difficult to accomplish." The 
reader may form some idea of the style and spirit of 


these letters, from one towards the conclusion of the se- 
ries, addressed to Lord Chatham. It is here inserted. 


" My lord, — Permit an individual unknown, and un- 
distinguished, to thank you, in the sincerity of his warm- 
est gratitude, for your generous, though ineffectual at- 
tempt, to stay the uplifted hand of civil desolation. Your 
great name will not be delivered down to posterity with 
more applause, for having directed, with so much spirit 
and wisdom, the v.engeance of this nation against its 
real foes; than for having endeavoured, with equal hu- 
manity and prudence, to divert it from its truest friends. 

My lord, I can truly say, that in the heart of every 
American, the wish for the prosperity of England, is se- 
cond only to that for the liberties of his own country. No 
proposition could be made to Americans, ius which they 
would not most zealously contribute their treasure and 
blood to maintain the honour and advance the prospe- 
rity of England, if it did not involve a resignation of 
their dearest rights. Whatever may be their sense of 
the distresses of this country ; whatever may be their 
wish to minister relief; when that cannot be done, with- 
out submitting their hands to chains, and their necks to 
the yoke, they must be forgiven for the refusal. 
I When a series of injuries have rendered the alterna- 
^ tive, slavery and submission, bonds or resistance, I speak 
it with exultation, I speak it with assurance, there are 
not a thousand men, of the three millions spread abroad 
in America, who will hesitate one moment in the choice. 
Trust me, my lord, they will never be slaves. They 
will not dishonour their venerated English ancestry. 
To be enslaved, would stamp degeneracy and bastard- 
ism on their brows. Let the demon of distraction go 
forth when he 'may, he will find them devota morti 
pectora liberce. Their struggles and their sufferings 
will, they hope at least, entitle them to the respect of 
their parent state. * Their zeal and cause combined, will 
disarm the soldier of his fellest purpose. A sense of in- 


justice will hang like a millstone about his neck, and 
unnerve his arm. 

It has been ray lord, for many years, my humble but 
honest task to warn, through the channel of the public 
papers, his majesty's ministers of theibtal consequences 
of their arlntrary measures. It is some time since I de- * 
spaired of doing good. I have found them, not so much 
misled by ignorance, as inveterate in malice ; not adopt- 
ing desultory measures, but pursuing a premeditated, 
deep and dangerous plan against the liberties of the peo- 
ple. I was prompted to exert my poor endeavours, by 
the same equal regard for both countries, ^whose ruin is 
involved in this perilous issue ; by the same ardent zeal 
and love of humanity and freedom, which moved your 
lordship, like a guardian angel, to intervene and endea- 
vour to stop the most fatal conflict, that this eventful 
country ever felt. 

My lord, I have but one more word. When the acts 
of this country respecting America are just, th^y will 
never be questioned ; when they are unjust, they will never 
be obeyed. Junius americanus." 

The author has collected many of the 'letters of Mr. 
Lee to his brothers, written from England, on the high- 
ly important subjects which so anxiously engaged the 
attention of the leading men in all the colonies, during 
the years 1767, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, fee. Of these 
letters, the author has elsewhere observed, that Mr. 
Lee's residence in London, and his intimate acquaint- 
ance and intercourse with the " whig party," or opposi-v^ 
tion party in England, enabled him to render them very 
interesting to politicians (even of the present day), and 
will always make them so to historians of our country. 
It has also been observed, that from no history or col- 
lection of contemporaneous papers, can be obtained a 
more minute and accurate detail of the circumstances 
and measures of that day ; a more thorough acquaintance 
with the conspicuous characters of England in the times 
in which they were written ; or a more sure information, 
with respect to the schemes and policy of the different 


parties which espoused or opposed the interests of the 
colonies, than from these letters of Arthur Lee. They 

J gave his brother the earliest intelligence of every circum- 
stance, which could conduce to the intelligent action of 

y that spirit of resi^nce, that his brothers and their pat- 
riotic coadjutors were endeavouring to rouse, against the 
arbitrary acts of the mother country. In this way Mr. 
Lee conferred on his own country essential services.* 

In the year 1769, a society of gentlemen of the oppo- 
sition party in London, called ** the Supporters of the 
Bill of Rights," of which Mr. Lee was a member, adopt- 
ed a preamble and resolutions, in which most of the po- 
litical subjects of controversy between the ministry and 
opposition were discussed. These resolutions, together 
with the preamble, were published by order of the so- 
ciety. The last resolution related to American affairs, 
and required from any candidate whom the members of 
the society would support for election to parliament, a 
pledge to seek the restt^ration to America of the essen- 
tial right of taxation, by their oWn representatives, and 
a repeal of all acts passed in violation of this right, since 
the year 1763." The preamble and resolutions were 
written by Mr. Lee. The famous John Wilkes was also 
a member of the society, and was now at the zenith of 
his popularity.^ The author of. the celebrated letters of 
Junius was friendly to the principles and design of this 
society. It was formed of the party he had- espoused. 
Junius, about the time of the appearance of these reso- 
lutions, and this preamble, had commenced a private 
correspondence with Wilkes, for the purpose of aiding 
the supporters of the Bill of Rights, in their attacks 
upon the ministry. The society eagerly ' accepted the 
proffered aid of Junius. Junius was not entirely pleased 
with the preamble and resolutions ; and soon after their 
appearance, addressed a long letter to Wilkes, to be laid 
before the society, in which he fully stated his objec- 
tions to them and his reasons for his objections. This 
letter of Junius, and the preamble and resolutions, may 


* The letten hero spokon of, will be found in the Appendix to thii work, No. I. 


be found in the edition of WoodfalPs Collection of the 
Letters of Junius, printed in Philadelphia, bj Bradford 
& Innskeep, 1813, p. 172, of vol. i. In this letter, we 
have the opinion of Junius on the subject of American 
taxation. At page 183, of the edition just spoken of, he 
notices the resolutions relating to Ireland and America, 
thus : " You are very civil to Ireland and America ; and 
if you mean any thing but ostentation, it may possibly 
answer your purpose. Your care of Ireland is much to 
be commended. But I think, in good policy, you may 
as well complete a reformation at home, before you at-* 
tempt to carry your improvements to such a distance* 
Clearing the fountain is the best and shortest way to 
purify the stream. As to taxing the Americans by their 
own represent^ives, I confess I do not perfectly under^ 
stand you. If you propose that, in the article of taxa-* 
tion, they should be left to the authority of their respec- 
tive assemblies, I must own, I think you had no business 
to revive a question which should, and probably would 
lay dormant forever.* . If you mean, that the Americans 
should be authorized to send their representatives to the 
British parliament, I shall be contented to refer you to 
what Burke said on that subject, and will not venture to 
add any thing of mine own, for fear of discovering an of- 
fensive disregard of your opinion. Since the repeal of 
the stamp act, I know of no acts tending to tax the Ame- 
ricans, except that which creates the tea duty, and even 
thai can hardly be called internal; yet it ought to be re- 
pealed, as an impolitic act, not as an oppressive one.f It 

* It IB obTioufl) that Joniu had oot paid roiich attention to American questions. 
To be left to the aathoritr of their own assemblies to grant money to the mother, 
was what the Americana had, all along, claimed as a right 

t Here Junias betrays his inattention to the principles asserted in the tazinc acts. 
The resenralion of the small daty on tea, was expressly made to assert the right of 
the parliament of Great Britain to tax America, without her consent, in any mode 
and to any extent. It was to the assertion and assamption of this right, and not to 
the amooot of the doty, that the colonies objected. What security had they, that 
if the principle was allowed to be true, it would not be hereafter enforced more 
rigoroBsly ? The excise laws were then in operation. When Jooios says, '* the 
t^ duty conid hardly be called intemiil," he was, in fact, vindicating the propriety 
of the doty and its principle. Jonips snflbred no actual oppression, yet how vehe- 
mently be maintained that the violation of the principles of the constitution even by 
tiie assertion of a false one, was oppression. This was the proposition which the 
Amarieaiii maintained. 



preserves the contention between the colonies and the 
mother country, when every thing worth contending for 
is, in reality, given up. When this act is repealed, I 
presume you will turn your thoughts to the postage act, 
a tax imposed by the authority of parliament, and levied 
in the very heart of the colonies. I am not sufficiently 
informed on the subject of that excise, which you say 
is substituted in North America for the laws of cus- 
toms, as to deliver such an opinion on it as I would 
abide by. Yet I can easily comprehend that, admitting 
the necessity of raising a revenue for the support of gov- 
ernment there, any other revenue laws but those of ex- 
cise, would be nugatory in such a country as America. 
I say this with great diffidence, as to the point in ques- 
tion, and with a positive protest against any conclusion 
from Americ?i to Great Britain." In one of Wilkes's 
letters to Junius, he tefls him, ." that the American Dr. 
Lee, the author of the letters signed "Junius Ameri- 
canus," is the author of the preamble and resolutions, 
upon which Junius was commenting. The authority of 
Junius, adverse as his opinions certainly were to Ameri- 
can rights, might hav^ been injurious to the cause of the 
colonies, by abating the zeal of the opposition in its fa- 
vour. This consequence was at once discerned by Mr. 
Lee, who, nnawed by the name and ability of Junius^ 
and true* to the cause nearest his heart, determined to 
controvert, by a direct reply to his letter to Wilkes, his 
opinions respecting American taxation. In a subsequent 
letter of Wilkes to Junius (page 189 of the edition 
already quoted), Wilkes tells him that he had laid his 
letter before the society, and " that Dr. Lee had told 
him he thought the letter capable of a full answer, 
which he meant to lay before the society on a future 
day, which he would first communicate to him." 

Mr* Lee made good his intention, and wrote an an- 
swer and transmitted it to Junius. No one had before 
answered this able writer with success. The boldness of 
Mr. Lee was amply sustained by his talents, which drew 
from Junius himself the following compliment, and 
an invitation to aid him, ^^ where he thought him righfj 


as he had opposed him, where he thought him wrongj^ 
At page 209 of Woodfall, Junius thus writes to Wilkes. 
^^My American namesake is plainly a man of abilities, 
though a little unreasonable, when he demands more than 
an absolute surrender of the fact, I agree with him, 
that it is a hardship on the Americans to be taxed by the 
British legislature ; but it is a hardship inseparable in 
theory, from the condition of colonists in which they 
have voluntarily placed themselves. If emigration be no 
crime to deserve punishment, it is certainly no virtue to 
claim exemption ; and however it may have proved es- 
sentially beneficial, the mother country was but little 
obliged to the motives of the first emigrants, ^u reste^ 
I see no use in fighting this question in the news papers ; 
nor have I time. You lUay assure Dr. Lee^ that to my 
heart and understanding, the names of American and 
Englishman are synonymous ; and that as to any future 
taxation upon America, 1 look upon it as near to impos- 
sible, as the highest probability can go— 

1 hope, that sinct he has opposed me, where he thinks me 
wrong, he will be equally ready to assist me, where he thinks 
me rtghtJ^ 

In the following letter of Mr. Lee to one of his bro- 
thers, he mentions, with.5ther incidents of the day, the 
formation of the society of '* the Bill of Rights." ' The 
reason, why the "North Britons'^ (as he terms the 
Scotch) were so opposed to this society was, that it was 
formed of those who were friendly to Wilkes and his 
cause. The dislike, entertained by Junius and Wilkes, 
of the Scotch, and their abuse of them, will be recol- 
lected by the reader. There was a strong prejudice at 
this time prevailing in England against the Scotch, aris- 
ing from the fact that most of the influential members of 
the ministry and their party, were Scotchmen. George 
the III. had been educated under the care and guardian- 
ship of the Earl of Bute, who was of Scotch descent, 
and was strongly attached to Scotch politicians. He had 
imparted this partiality to the king, who in the early 
part of his reign, bestowed most of the highest and more 
lucrative places on them. This partiality, however just 

VOL. I. 4 


in itself, was indiscreetly indulged. The English part 
of the empire became jealous of this bias in the mind 
of the king ; and jealousy at length rose to discontent 
and complaint. It was not strange that the opposition 
should have made the most of this temper of the people 
of England, and that the " North Britons" should have 
adhered closely to the ministerial party. The society 
of the Bill of Rights, being an efficient organ of opposi- 
tion, could not fail of being an otgect^of denubciatioH by 
them. In this letter Mr. Lee mentions a curious anec«* 
dote, that a speech had been made in England, for Lord 
Botetourt, to be delivered by him on his arrival in the 
colony of Virginia, to the House of Burgesses ; that this 
speech had been debated in the Kmg's Privy Council, 
where Lord Shelburne (always the friend of the col- 
onies) had succeeded in expunging a part of it, requiring 
from the house of burgesses of that colony, an express 
.acknowledgment of the principle of the declaratory act, 
which that body had resolutely declared to be unconsti- 

"My Dear Brother, — I hardly thought the distance of 
the ocean between us was so immense, that not a line 
from you, or any one else in Virginia, could have reached 
me. Yet so I hitherto uqhappily experienced. 

May I give you joy, as I do our brother William, who 
has changed his voyage to India, in the Princess of Wales, 
into one to the land of matrimony, in the Miss Ludwell. 
As a warm climate suits not with him, I hope he will find 
a temperate one in the place of his destination. 

The esquire writes me, of your not being any longer 
a member of the assembly. How immoderately lazy you 
are ! 

I have sent all the political pamphlets worth reading to 
Richard Henry, which I suppose you will read. We are 
here in very great confusion, parties run so high. Mr. 
Wilkes is expelled a third time, and will be re-chosen. 
The two Irish chairmen condemned to death for a mur- 
der at the Brentford election, have been pardoned, on 
a groundless and venal opinioa of tbh' surgeons, five of 



whom were J)lacemen, that the hlow did not appear to 
them to be the cause of the death. So not one person 
has suffered for that unparalleled outrage. 

Several addressee have been obtained, condemning the 
opposition and flattering the ministry. But they are the 
fruit of force and frauds and serve rather to manifest a 
contrary sense in the people, to that which they convey 
to the throne. The address of the merchants of London 
was presented yesterday. The mob rose against it, and 
shut the city gates, and put the whole cavalcade to flight. 
The shattered remains escaped to St. James', accomps^- 
nied by a hearse, representing the murder of Allen. The 
bells were muffled, a^d were tolled as the addressers 

Sassed along Fleet-street, which leads to the city gate. 
Neither the form, nor the propriety of this address, were 
ever submitted to the merchants ; but these were deter- 
mined by Mr* Boehem, Mr. Dingley, and Mr. Muilman ; 
the former a man of reputation and credit as a merchant, 
the two others of bad characters ; the first and last Dutch- 
men. The merchants had it only in their option to sign 
it or not to sign it ; the placemen, tools, and Scotsmen, 
cho&e the former ; and their act passes for that of all the 
merchants. There never was a more infamous transac- 
tion. Mr; Molleson^ Mr. Guest, and Mr. Buchanan, were 
among the signers. 

The affairs of America receive^d their final discussion 
last week, in the rejection of the New- York petition. 
The ministry carry every thing, with an absolute majori- 
ty. A set of men could hardly be chosen, more despised, 
here, and in America ; but they coincide with the views 
of court ; and while such principles remain there, 'tis of 
little moment who are in the administration. We have 
little hope from any change, and seem so little faithful to 
our own cause, that it is confidently asserted,^ that more 
goods than ever have been shipped to America this year. 
If it be thus, we infamously lay down the only weapons 
we have ; slavery is our due, and it will infallibly be our 

The worthy Lord Barrington moved the other day for 
empowering the officers in America to quarter the sol- 


diers in private houses. But the ministry being divided 
upon it, a negative was the fate of his motion. 

A number of gentlemen have formed an association 
under the title of Supporters of the B^ll of Rights, Mrhich 
gives no small offence to administration, and to the 
North Britons, because they patronize subscriptions for 
]Vfr. Wilkes, and are determined to pay his debts, and 
make him independent. The chief of them are St. John, 
St. Aubin, Sir John Molesworth, Sir Joseph Mawbey, 
Mr. Sawbridge^ Mr. Turner, Mr. Townsend, Mr. Maclean, 
Mr. Glyn, members of parliament; Sir Cecil Wray, also 
a member ; Lord Viscount Montmerrie^, Sir Francis Del- 
aval, Sir John Barnard, all of them independent, and ex- 
cept Maclean .and Townsend, of very considerable fami- 
ly and fortune. Mr. Sawbridge is a brother of the cele- 
brated Mrs. Macauley. The' addresses are principally 
levelled at this association. I have been at one of their 
meetings, but my purse is not equal to my inclination to 
support the Bill of Rights. 

Your governor's speech was drawn up here, and de»- 
bated in council. Before he went out, Lord Shelburne 
obtained the expunging of an express requisition from 
your assembly, of an acknowledgment of the Declaratory 
Bill. If therefore any such is made, it is on the sole 
authority of Lord Hillsborough. 

My love to all with you, particularly to Mrs. Lee, if 
yet so constituted. Adieu, &c. 

Arthur Lee. n 

London^ March 2Sd, 1769. 




Mitieal contentions between the Ministerial and Oppoaition paities !n England — 
l%e Lord Mayor of London, Cro^bj, and Alderman Oliver are committed to the 
Tower» by order of the Coounons — ^The Society of the Bill of Rights vote their 
thanks to Crosby and Oliver, and an Address to them — Lee is appointed to draught 
the Address and prepares it-— It is accepted and published — The Address — Its style, 
&e.-^It Ib admired — He is appointed Colonial Agent of Alassachnsetts, in case of 
the death or absence of Dr. Franklin — Is retained by the Assembly of that 
Pknrinee to support their Petition to the King, to remove the Governor and Lient. 
Governor — Dr. FrankKn'9 trial before the King and Coancil, respecting the pnb. 
lication of certain letters — On the return of Doctor Franklin,, he becomes the 
Agent for the Province — Remains of a history of the Revolution, by Mr. Le^— 
His services to the Province of Massachusetts, and the generous conduct of its 
Aasembfy — He beeomee a friend and correspondent .of Samuel Adams — The cha> 
ncter of their correspondence — Letter of Dr. Rush — Letter on American afiain 
of Lee, to his brother in Virginia — Anecdote of Lee aodWedderburne — The Pe- 
tition to the King and the Addresses of the first Congress are sent to Lee, to be 
presented and published — Letter of Burke on this subject — ^Anecdotes and letters 
of Lee respecting the reception of these Papers, by the King and People of Eng- 
land — Letter of the second Congress to Lee and Penn, with another Addres^-^ 
The case of Mr, Loveli — ^His letter to Mr. Lee— Their snbseqaent friendship and 


During the years 1770 and '71, the political conten- 
tions between the ministry and the opposition were very 
violent. This was particularly the case in the city of 
London. A messenger of the house of commons arrest- 
ed a printer, a citizen of London, by order of the com- 
mons, commanding him to appear at their bar, for having 
printed some debates of the house which they declared 
to be a violation of the privileges of parliament. The 
opposition contended, that no constitutional privilege jus- 
tified the warrant, under which the messenger had arrest- 
ed the printer. This incident gave rise to warm discus- 
sions in the papers at the time, and many debates in par- 
liament. The messenger of the commons was taken into 
custody by a constable, who carried him before the lord 
mayor. The case was heard by the lord mayor, and al- 
dermen Wilkes and Oliveri who discharged the printer, 


and signed a conunitment of the messenger, for an assault 
and false imprisonment. This proceeding so exasperated 
the commons, that they summoned the aldermen to appear 
at the bar of the house, to answer for their conduct. 
Wilkes refused to obey the summons ; but the lord mayor 
and alderman Oliver attended, and justified their proceed- 
ing. They were committed to the tower for contumacy. 
Mr. Crosby, the lord mayor, upon hearing the order for 
his commitment, addressed the speaker in terms of firm 
and manly remonstrance against this arbitrary step, and 
concluded with this bold and patriotic declaration : — " I 
will through life continue to obey the dictates of honour 
and conscience ; to support, to the utmost of my power, 
every part of the constitution of this kingdom ; and the 
event I shall always leave to heaven ; at all times, ready 
to meet my fate." 

Thia measure of the commons excited a strong senti- 
ment of indignation throughout the nation. The society 
of the supporters of the Bill of Rights passed resolutions 
against the outrage committed upon the lord mayor and 
the alderman, and voted an address of thanks to these 
magistrates, warmly approving-pf their firmness in having 
resisted the illegal conduct of the commons. Mr. Lee 
was appointed to write the address, which being adopted, 
and much admired, was published by the livery of 
London. It is here inserted, and is taken from his origi- 
nal MS. draught. 


"The Members of the Bill of Rights, impressed with 
the deepest respect and gratitude for the manly support 
you have given to the law of the land, and the liberties 
of the nation, in committing a messenger of the house of 
commons, for an assault on a citizen of London, have de- 
puted us to convey to you their thanks and approbation 
of your conduct. 

When privilege is at variance with the law of the land 
and the rights of the people, no honest man can hesitate 
to determine agaiqst iu Our ancestors held as a maxim, 
that he who does apt favour liberty, is impious and cruel.''*' 

* Mr. Lee has <poted in his M9. the maxim in Latia **l4bertati9 qui non faret, 
impins eC cradelis judiciimdaa." Forteicae.— -Ld. Coke. ' ^ 


Had there been only a doubt, therefore, of the constitu- 
tional and legal tendency of the proceeding you opposed, 
that doubt would have justified your opposition. The 
process which deprives a freeman of his liberty, ought to 
be clear and unquestionable. But this proceeding was 
plainly arbitrary, and subversive of the general liberty of 
the subject, declared in Magna Charta and otht^r vener- 
able statutes, as well as of the chartered rights of the city 
of London, most solemnly confirmed by act of parliament. - 
You therefore, gentlemen, when you upheld the law, acted 
with a spirit and integrity becoming the first magistrates 
of this great city, which has ever distinguished itself in 
patronizing liberty. 

We have been told, that usage will justify this exercise 
of privilege. But it is a maxim of the common lavi^, the 
groundwork of our constitution, that " usage against rea- 
son is an usurpation."* Now it is manifestly against 
reason, that the people should be subject to be deprived 
of their liberty, at the arbitrary and capricious will of an 
assembly of their own creation ; and that creation, too, 
for the very purpose of preserving liberty. " The princi^ 
pies of the law of England are always favourable to the 
personal liberty of the subject. \ If the powers of the 
house of commons are not exactly defined by law, still 
they must be limited by the principles of it, and by the 
reason of the case in which they are exercised. To shut 
up from the people, who have an essential and unalienable 
right to inquire into the conduct of their representatives, 
all knowledge of their proceedings, is against reason, a 
flagrant violation of right, and stamps an alarming suspi- 
cion on those whose actions are thus carefully covered 
with darkness. A house of commons, privileged against 
the people, to trample on the law, is a manifest and mon- 
strous absurdity. They were vested \yith privilege to 
defend them in the due exercise of their functions, from 
the crown and its ministers. And we yet hope to see, 

* Coosaetado contra rationem, potius nsorpalio, quaiu consnetndo appellori de- 
bet — ^Ld. Coke. 

t Angliae jnra, ia omni caau, Ubertati dant favorem. — ^Fortescne. — ^Who doea not 
8<ImirB and cheriab (he .common law ? 


through the awakened virtue of the people, a house of 
commons, who will direct the powers trusted with them 
by the community, not against liberty, but to a severe and 
exemplary inquiry by whose advice it has happened, that 
the present reign, considering its duration and circum- 
stances, has been arbitrary and unconstitutional beyond 
the worst example of former times, • It is then, that the 
alarms of the people will be composed^slheir indignation 
will subside,, and their confidence in their representatives 
and in government will be restored. They never can be 
supposed to have chosen deputies to be tyrants ; that is, 
to have aq arbitrary and unexaminable power over them- 
selves. They acknowledge no absolute power over them 
but the law, and to that their representatives are equally 

It is in support of this, gentlemen, that you now suffer ; 
and, next to vindicating the violated laws, we deem it 
your greatest happiness and honour to suffer nobly in 
their defence. The fabric of English liberty has been 
cemented by the blood of Englishmen ; and should it be 
necessary, we trust there is yet patriotism enough, to fur- 
nish blood for its reparation. 

To the Right Honourable Lord Mayor, 
and Mr. Alderman Oliver.^' - 

The bold and strenuous part that Mr. Lee,- for several 
years, had taken in opposition to the ministerial measures, 
against those particularly which affected the colonies, had 
rendered him popular in all of them. The character he 
had established as a writer and an advocate, had become 
known in the colonies. Hence, in the year 1770, he was 
appointed, by the assembly of Massachusetts, agent for 
that colony, in case of the absence or death of. Dr. Frank- 
lin, who was then residing in London in that capacity. 
Dr. Franklin had been preceded in this honourable ap- 
pointment by Dennis De Berdt, a highly respectable gen- 
tleman of London.. Dr. Franklin continued in London 
until the spring of 1775. From the time of the appoint- 
ment of Mr. Lee just mentioned, until the return of Dr. 
Franklin to America, when he became sole agent for the 
Massachusetts Assembly, he aided Dr. Franklin with his 


advice and opinions, on the affairs of that colony. A 
close and warm intimacy sprang up, and continued, be- 
tween these patriots, while they resided together in Lon- 
don. Their friendship was founded upon their private 
virtues, was nourished by similar patriotic motives, and 
was adorned and enlivened by scientific researches and 
acquirements. But their mutual political and scientific 
friends had to regret, at a subsequent period, their estrange- 
ment from each other. The causes of the interruption of 
the friendship of two such men, are subjects not inappro- 
priate to the designs and province of biography. They 
are stated therefore in another part of this memoir of 
Mr. Lee. 

The mention of this honour done him by the assembly 
of Massachusetts, is made by Mr. Lee, in the remains,* 
of a sketch which he left behind him, of a history of the 
American revolution, which the reader will find in the 
Appendix, No. 2. He will there find the letter of thanksi 
addressed by him to that assembly; a letter, which an 
American reader will peruse with no ordinary interest. 
The. reader will pardon a di£]:ression, which appears not 
to be improper heVe. - ^ 

The author had understood from the family of Mr. 
Lee, that he had commenced, shortly before his death, a 
history of the American revolution ; of its political char- 
acter, as well as of its military events. He has found 
among his MSS. some sheets of "'Memoirs of the Amer- 
ican Revolution,*' which, he says, he wrote "to aid in 
placing the history of the American revolution in its true 
light.'' He had, it seems, commenced the execution of 
a design, that would have produced a work of value and 
interest to his own and to future times. What part of 
this memoir remains will amply repay him who shall 
read it. The knowledge of the rise and earliest pro- 
gress of our revolutionary struggle contained in it, will 
be gratifying to every intelligent mind, and important to 
our future historians ; for every authentic, additional ray 
of light cast upon the events and genius of that great 
transaction, will rej9ect glory upon our nation, and en- 

VOL. I. 5 * . 



lighten the path of every people, who shall strive for 

In the year 1773, as the reader will remember, Dr. 
Franklin obtained possession of several letters, which he 
transmitted to the assembly of Massachusetts. These 
letters were found to have been written by the governor 
and lieutenant governor of that province. They con- 
tained statements, calculated, in the opinion of the as- 
sembly, to make false impressions of their proceedings, 
and of the feelings and grievances of the people ; and to 
excite a temper in England prejudicial to their cause. 
The discovery of these letters and the writers -of them, 
so exasperated the assembly, that a petition to the king 
and council for the removal of the governor and lieuten- 
ant governor from their offices, was voted and sent to 
Dr. Franklin to be presented to the king-. The whole 
matter was made one of enquiry before the king and privy 
council ; but it was decided, as it might have been ex- 
pected, that the grounds and charges of the petition 
were frivolous and vexatious. The assembly directed 
Dr., Franklin, in the event of an enquiry into the con- 
duct of the governor and lieutenant governor, to employ 
Mr. Lee to support their petition.f After Dr. Franklin 
left England, in the yeat 1 77^ Mr. Lee became the act- 
ing agent for the assembly, nfiid continued in this capaci- 
ty, until he repaired to France, as a secret agent of the 
United States to the court of that country. On the de- 
parture of Dr. Franklin for America, he addressed the 
following letter to Mr. Lee.| 

Craven 8tre£v, Mar* 19, 1775. 

Dear Sir, — I leave directions with Mrs. Stephenson 
to deliver to you all the Massachusetts papers, when you 
please to call for them. I am sorry that the hurry of 
preparing for my voyage, and the many hinderances I 
have met with, prevented my meeting with you and Mr, 
Bollan, and conversing a little more on our affairs, before 

* The remnant of theM « Merooin'' will be found in No. 2, of the Appendix, 
t See letters of liie venenble Thomas Coahing, then speaker of the aaMmbljr of 
Haanchiuetts, to fifr. Lee. Appendix^ No. 9. 
t Thii letter if tokm fiom tkie aatogceph of Dr. 


my departure. I wish to both of you health and happi- 
ness, and shall be glad to hear from you by every oppor^ 

I shall let you know how I find things in America. I 
may possibly return again in autumn, but you will if 
you think fit, continue henceforth the agent for Massa- 
chusetts, an office which I cannot again undertake. I 
wish you all happiness, and am ever, yours affectionately, 

B. Frajjkun.* 

Arthur Lee^ Esq. 

One of the most interesting incidents in the life of Mr. 
Lee, is connected with his appointment of agent for the 
colony of Massachusetts. He was recommended for that 
honourable but hazardous office, by that able, inflexible 
and intrepid patriot, Samuel Adams, whose sagacity had 
already discerned in him a spirit congenial with his own. 
At this time, he was personally unknown to Mr. Adams, 
A^ mutual friend of these gentlemen^ who was then in 
London, made known to Mr. Lee the fact just mention- 
ed, and at the same time, acquainted him with an invita- 
tion from that great man to commence a correspond- 
ence, which he immediately accepted. They gave each 
other constant information of every event which occur- 
red in America and England, that had any connexion 
With American affairs. The remains of the correspond- 
ence of these patriotic citizens, that have been found 

* It b dae to the hononr of Maaaachosetts to state, that the legblatare of that 
ooromonwealth preseoted to Mr. Lee a tract of land, of oooaiderable value, as a 
compensatioa for his services in the capacity of agent of the colony of Massachn- 
eetta Bay, and as a mark of their gratitude for them. The following extract of a 
letter of Samuel Adams to James Warren, Esq. refers to the services of Mr. Lee 
at this period. Spiking of his attachment to him and his brothers, whom a fao* 
tion had endeavoured to injure, Mr. Adams says, ** Now you tell me their art is to 
prejudice the people against the Lees, and to propagate that I am a friend to them. 
How trifling is this ! Am I accountable to the people for my opiuiona of men ? If 
I have found from, long and intimate acquaintance with thoae gentlemen, that they 
aie and have been, from the beginning of this contest, among the mo«t able and 
zealous defendera of the' rights of America and mankind, shall 1 not be their friend ? 
I will avow my friendship to them in the face of the world. Jis an inhabitant of 
Mas$achuaett8 Bay, I should think myself ungrateful not to esteem Arthur 
Lee most highly, for his voluntary servites to that state, in times of her 
greatest need, to the injury of his private interest, and at the risk of hit 
life.** How a»ble was the spirit of the inestimable pattiDW Sanuiel Ad«v» u^ 
Im) w hononiable to any man wa9 hit friiendabip ! 


among the manuscript papers of Mr. Lee, may be seen 
in the Appendix, Nos. 8, 9. These letters are highly im- 
portant to the history of the American revolution, and 
while they are creditable to the talents of the writers, 
they are invaluable to every succeeding generation of 
their countrymen. Fortitude, wisdom, inflexible virtue, 
and ardent patriotism are evinced in every line. While 
x/such men informed, guided, and animated the people of 
the colonies, it was impossible for physical power to sub- 
due them. While the memory, the virtues and princi- 
ples of such men shall continue to be revered and cher- 
ished, the examples of the heroic days of our nation will 
secure to it the blessings of republican freedom ! 

The following letter of our justly admired and cele- 
brated countryman, Dr. Rush, with whom Mr. Lee bad 
become acquainted in London, or perhaps at Edinburgh, 
written about the time we have been contemplating, 
and breathing its spirit, will not be unacceptable to the 

Dear Sir, — I am far from being the last among my 
countrymen in admiring your zeal in the cause of Ame-* 
rican liberty. We grow more sanguine daily, from the 
success of our opposition to the measures of the court. 
There is a general union among the colonies, which no 
artifices of a ministry will be able to break. Dr. Frank- 
lin is a very popular character in every part of America. 
He will be received, and carried in triumph to his house, 
when he arrives amongst us. It is to be hoped he will 
not consent to hold any more offices under. government. 
No step but this can prevent his being handed down to 
posterity among the first and greatest characters in the 

I am about to appear before the public, as the author 
of an oration delivered in the American Philosophical 
Society, on the natural history of medicine among the 
Indians in North America, and a comparative view of 
their diseases and remedies, with tbose of civilized na- 
tions. I have connected with the subject some political 
reflectionsi which will tend to enlarge the ideas of the 


fiituTe populousness and grandeur of America. It has 
been published in Philadelphia, and was read with par- 
tiality even bj my countrymen. I tremble for its fate 
on your side of the water. You must apologize for the 
author, by pleading his many disadvantages, from the 
want of leisure, books and literary company. 

My success in business has exceeded the expectations 
with which I left London. With this I am obliged to 
console myself for the want of many rational enjoyments, 
which I gave up in England. The chief object here 
is commerce, which, you know, when pursued closely, 
sinks the man into a machine. Our merchants are alive 
to sentiments of liberty and public virtue. They have 
twice rescued America from slavery ; but it is re- 
flecting on their business only, to add, that they have 
little relish for the ^^ feast of reason, and the flow of soul." 

My brother joins in compliments to you, with dear 
sir, your most humble servant, B. Rush. 

Atlhur Lee^ Esq. Middle Temple^ London. 

Fhitadelphia, May 4th, 1774. 

In the early part of the year 1774, American affairs 
wore a threatening and gloomy aspect. The hearts of many 
began to faint ; and of all to feel forebodings of danger 
and suffering, or of submission and slavery. The feelings 
and anticipations of Mr. Lee, who witnessed the dark- 
less in its thickest shade, will be seen from the following 
letter to one of his brothers : 


" Most sincerely do I congratulate my dear brother, on 
the possession of that retirement, in which only can true 
tranquillity and happiness be enjoyed. Would to Heaven 

I could participate in the blissful retreat ! 


Where peace, with ever bloom iog olive, crowns 
The gate; where honoor's liberal hands efiiise 
UneDvied treasarea, and the snowj wings 
Of iimocence and love protect the scene. 

May providence watch over you, and protect you from 
that alarm, which, according to the poet, 

M Throngh thickMt shadeiy puiniif the fond of peaoe.** 



How dught I to lament that my fortune and my tem- 
per are perpetually combating my inclination and my 
judgment. No man can see in a more amiable light, or 
feel a stronger desire of enjoying retirement, than I. Yet, 
unhappily, my fate has thrown me into public life, and 
the impatience of my nature makes me embark in it, with 
an impetuosity and imprudence, whinh increase the evils 
to which it is necessarily subject. The pursuit is as end- 
less as it is turbulent and deceitful. One bubble is no 
sooner burst than another rises, with something new to en- 
gage and irritate its deluded pursuers. You wijl judge by 
this time, that I have nothing to say of my own situation 
and success, which can gratify the benevolent wishes you 
have the goodness to entertain for me. In my distresses 
you will also sympathize, for they are felt .for our coun- 
try. The parlianient are now bringing the question to 
that decision, which makes me tremble for the virtue, the 
character, the liberties of my countrymen. They have 
passed an act to take away the port of Boston, till every 
compensation is made for the tea, and perfect obedience 
is acknowledged. And then it is to be restored in such 
portions as the king pleases. What makes this more 
alarming is, that no accusation iS' brought against the 
town, no evidence produced to criminate it ; and it is 
avowed, that this is the first step towards reducing all 
America to an acknowledgment of the right of parlia- 
ment to impose taxes upon her, and to a submission to 
the exercise of that right. 

The Americans who are here have thought it of so 
much consequence, that they have petitioned the three 
branches of the legislature against passing such a bill ; 
but, as you may imagine, without success. 

The next proceeding against Boston and the province 
is already announced in the house of commons. The se- 
lectmen and town-meetings are to be abolished. The 
governor is to be endued with the power of calling the 
citizens together, when and for what purpose he pleases. 
They are not to deliberate on any thing but what he dic- 
tates. The council and judges are to be suspended at 
the govemor'a pleasure. The constitution of juries is to 


be altered, so as to render them more manageable in find- 
ing bills and verdicts against the friends of liberty. 

We are just informed that General Gage is going over 
immediately, with three regiments, as governor of Massa- 
chusetts, and commander-in-chief ; that he is to collect 
an army about Boston, in order to impose these measures, 
and reduce the people to entire obedience. 

The storm, you see, runs high ; and it will require great 
prudence, wisdom, and resolution, to save our liberties 
from shipwreck. In my opinion, there ought to be a general 
congress of the colonies ; and I think Annapolis would be 
the place, where it would be less liable to military inter- 
ruption, than at New- York or Philadelphia. If you have 
virtue enough to resolve to stop, and to execute the reso- 
lution of stopping your exports and imports for one year, 
this country must do you justice. The shipping, manu- 
factures, and revenue, depend so much on the tobacco 
and Carolina colonies, that they alone, by stopping their 
exports, would force redress. Such a measure should be 
attended with an address to the merchants, manufactur- 
ers, and traders of this country, stating the necessity 
which compels you to a measure injurious to them; pro- 
fessing every thing to flatter and conciliate them. Such a 
measure, operating at the general election, next April, 
would probably produce such a return of members, as 
would listen to truth and redress, not so much our griev- 
ances, as their own. 

This is the only effectual measure I can conceive. If 
there is not virtue enough fdf it, I am afraid American j| 
liberty is no more; for you may depend upon it, that if jl 
they find the chains can be easily imposed, they will 
make them heavy, and rivet them fast. 

It is impossible for me to describe how much I am|' 
grieved at these proceedings, and with what anxiety I look ( 
forward toj^wj^sjit. You know I have doubted the vir- ' 
tue.of my countrymen. God grant, that I may be mis- 
taken ; that by a wise, temperate, and firm conduct, they 
may escape the blow intended, and preserve their free- 
dom. The friends of liberty here, look to your con- 
duct with great anxiety. They consider it as decisive, 

40 UF£ OF 

either to establish or overturn the present plan of despot* 

There is a spirit of violence, injustice, and persecution 
in administration, against every active friend of America, 
which makes that character perilous. I cannot see that/,, 
any service can be done here until the event of theseru 
measures is seen, and the popular prejudices begin toj^ 
abate. I am therefore determined to withdraw myself, | 
by taking the advantage of a favourable opportunity of J 
visiting Rome, for some months; from whence however,!! 
I shall return sooner, if any great event should hold out!' 
a probability of my being useful. > 

Mrs. Lee well knows the power of praise ; and how 
ambitious I should be of meriting it from her. But, alas, 
I have not the powers of pleasing. Horrors only dwell 
on my imagination. Public corruption at present, and 
public calamity for the future, are the dismal objects 
which incessantly fill my mind. The busy haunts of men 
furnish more to lament than to rejoice in ; to censure, 
than to praise. They are filled with scenes of false hap- 
piness and real misery, variety of vice and wretchedness. 
It is rural retirement only, rural innocence,rural tranquillity, 
which excite an uninterrupted flow of ideas, amiable and 
delightful. In these pleasing scenes,. the perturbed spi- 
rits settle into a calm, productive of more real happiness, 
than all that the splendour of fortune, all that the pomp 
of power can bestow. It is there the golden age revives, 
and all things inspire the snirit of love and delight. 

My best love awaits hen Remember me at Mt. Airy, 
Stradford, Chantilly, and wherever else you think the 
mention of my name will not be disagreeable. 

Adieu, &c. 

Arthur Lee. 

Francis L. Lee. ^ . 

April 2d, 1774. 

The following anecdote, which grew out of the circum- 
stances of these times, will not be considered a digressive 
one, as it illustrates the character of one of those really 


great men, whom the God of providence raised up to 
consummate through their subordinate agency, one of the 
grandest events in His moral government of the world. 
During a debate ia the house of commons on American 
affairs, Mr. Lee, who always attended in the lobby of the f 
house when any American question was debated, heard 
Mr. Wedderburne (afterwards Lord Loughborough) make 
a violent attack on the character of the colonial assem- 
blies, and assert, that they had stopped all legal proceed- 
ings for the recovery by British merchants, of debts due 
to them from the inhabitants of the colonies, upon the 
pretence of the oppression of the stamp act, and had af- 
terwards refused to restore the legal means of the recov- 
ery of such debts, although that act had been repealed.* 
Mr. Lee heard this assertion with indignation. As sooa 
as parliament adjourned, he addressed a note to Wedder- 
burne, in which he denounced in strong terms, his charge 
against the American assemblies, and called on him as a 
man of honour, to retract it in as public a manner as he 
had made it ; and threatened, if he did not do so, to de- 
clare him through the public papers, "a propagator of 
mischievous calumnies against America." One of the 
admired and celei)rated addresses of the continental con- 
gress in the year 1774, was an address to the king on 
the subject of colonial grievances. On the 2i>th i)ctober 
1774, it was resolved, " that the address to the king be 
enclosed in a letter to the several colony agents, in or- 
der that the same may be by them presented to his 
majesty ; and the agents be requested to call in the aid 
of such noblemen and gentlemen^ as are esteemed firm 
friends to American liberty, &c." Mr. Richard Henry 
Lee wrote the letter to the agents-f Mr. Arthur Lee was 
at this time, as it has been already mentioned, the agent 
for Massachusetts. The extensive acquaintance and in- 
tercourse of Mr, Lee with the leaders of the opposition 
party, enabled him to execute the request contained in 
the latter part of the above resolution to great advantage. 

* The Americans did not complain of any actual oppression from this act, but 
of the daitgeroiis and Qnconslitiitional principle which it asserted. '1 be act indeed 
had been repealed, but iti ipirit wai espraitly retained andeufoioed in the tea duty, 
t See Jonmalf » p. 66. 

VOL. I. 6 



He presented copies of the several addresses of the con- 
gress, viz., to the king, to the people of British America, 
and to the people of Great Britain, to Lord Chatham, to 
Mr. Burke, and to many other distinguished friends of 
America. These addresses produced a great effect on the 
mind of the British people, and drew from Lord Chatham 
a well known expression of admiration.* 

As soon as these papers reached Mr. Lee, he took the 
necessary steps to present the petition to the king, and 
to procure the most extensive circulation of the address 
to the people of Great Britain. Being particularly anx- 
ious to avail himself of the. active and open agency of Mr. 
Burke, whose weight of character and influence with 
the people were at this time great. Mr. Lee addressed 
a letter to him, desiring that he might accompany him 
when he should wait with the petition to the king, on 
Lord Dartmouth, who had succeeded Lord Hillsborough 
as secretary for the colonies. The reply of Mr. Burke 
is taken from his autographic letter,, now in possession of 
the author. Although he declined to comply with the 
request of Mr. Lee, for the reason his letter discloses, it 
still evinces his real friendship for the colonies, and the 
candour and genuine patriotism of that great man. 

"Sir, — I am honoured with your letter of the 21st inst. 
informing me of the time on which you purpose to wait 
on Lord Dartmouth, with the petition of the Americsm 

I should be happy to attend you on that occasion, as 
you desire, if I were in the slightest degree authorized 
to do so by the colony which I represent. I have been 
chosen agent by the general assembly of New- York. 
That assembly has actually refused to send deputies to 
the congress ; so that, if I were to present a petition in 
the character of their agent, I should act not only with- 
out, but contrary to the authority of my constituents. 
Whilst I act for them, it is not possible for me, in my 
transactions with the boards or ministers, to divest my- 
self occasionally of that character. 

* Sm Appendix, No. I. A. Lee's letter to hii brother, dated Dec 22d, 1774. 


This, aad this only, is my reason for not obeying your 
commands. I do approve exceedingly of all dutiful ap- 
plications of the congress to bis majesty. I am con- 
vinced, that nothing is further from the desires of the 
gentlemen who compose it, than to separate themselves 
from their allegiance to their sovereign, or their subordi- 
nate connexion with their mother country. I believe 
they sincerdy wish for an end of these unhappy trou- 
bles, in which, while all are distressed, they must be the 
first and greatest sufferers. It were greatly to be desir- 
ed, that ministers could meet their pacific dispositions 
with a temper corresponding to them. On these princi- 
ples I heartily wish you success, in your laudable en- 
deavours for the restoration of peace, and the reconcili- 
ation of our fellow subjects to their sovereign. 

I have the honour to be your most obedient and humble 
servant, Edmund Burkb. 

Becansfield^ Aug. 22(2, 1775.'' 

Mr. Richard Penn (a descendant of William Penn, 
and the agent for the colony of Pennsylvania) and Mr. 
Lee addressed a note to Lord Dartmouth, informing him 
of the commands they had received from congress to 
present their petition to the king, and respectfully re- 
questing an interview with his lordship for the purpose 
of presenting it through him (according to the routine 
of established ceremonies of state) to his majesty. To 
their note Lord Dartmouth returned the following polite 

. * 

^' Lord Dartmouth presents bis compliments to Mr, 
Richard Penn and Mr. Lee ; he. has just received by the 
post their note of the 21st inst., which would have been 
sent to him by express, if it had been known at his of- 
fice that they had any commands for him. Lord Dart- 
mouth having left . orders there that he should be sent 
for whenever his presence should be required in town. 
He will return to London in a d^y or two, and will not 
fail to inform Mr* Penn and Mr. Lee of his arrival.'' 

'^ SandweU^ 24th Augu^ 1775." 


At their interview with Lord Dartmouth, these gen- 
tlemen delivered the petition to him, which was signed 
by the president of congress, who promised them that 
he would immediately lay it before the king, and make 
known his answer to them. While the petition was yet 
before his majesty, a debate took place in the house of 
lords on American affairs. In this debate* Lord Dart- 
mouth alluded to a publication that Mr. Penn 9nd Mr. Lee 
had caused to be made, in which they stated what had 
occurred in the. course of their inlerviews with that minis- 
ter respecting the delivery of the petition. Mr. Lee, who 
thought he discerned in the remarks of Lord Dartmouth 
a covert censure on them, and an implied denial of the 
truth of the statement made in their publication, deter- 
mined if Mr. Penn understood Lord D.'s remarks as 
he did, to reply to them through the press. Mr. Penn 
however, not perceiving the same tendency in them that 
bad struck the mind of Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee desisted from 
his purpose. Mr. Penn's note to Mr. Lee relates to in- 
teresting transactions, and is here inserted. 

"Mr. Penn presents his compliments to Mr. Lee; 
what fell from Lord Dartmouth in the debate on Friday 
did not strike Mr. P. in the same light it seems to have 
appeared to Mr. Lee, from the contents of his note, nor 
did he imagine that his lordship intended to throw out 
any, the least insinuation against the conduct of either of 
them. It is not extraordinary to Mr. P. that any man 
in a bad cause when hard run, should endeavour to catch 
at any twig in his way ; at the same time, Mr. P. is tho- 
roughly satisfied in his own conscience, that what they 
have already laid befbre the public respecting the deliv- 
ery of the petition, was the truth, the whole truth, and 
nothing but the truth. ~ 

New Bond Street, Nov'r. 12Ui, 1775." 

After some time had elapsed, without any answer hav- 
ing been returned to the petition to the king, Mr. Penn 
and Mr. Lee waited again on Lord Dartmouth, and ex- 
pressed their earnest desire to receive some answer, 


which they might return to congress. To their surprise 
and concern his lordship informed them that ^^ no answer 
would be given." .The following is Mr. Lee's account 
of this interview. — " Upon receiving this answer from 
Lord Dartmouth, * that no answer would be given' to 
the petition, I expressed to him my sprrow that his ma- 
jesty bad adopted a measure which would occasion so 
much bloodshed. To this his lordship answered, that if 
he thought it would be the cause of shedding one drop 
of blood, he should never have concurred in it, but that 
he could not be of an opinion that it would be attended 
with any such consequences. My lord (I replied), as 
sure as we exist, this answer will be the cause of much 
blood being shed in America, and of most dreadful con- 
sequences. We then took our leave. Persuaded as I 
was that the determination of the king and his ministers 
had been long fixed for using force, I should not have 
troubled myself with making any observation on the an- 
swer we received, but that this secretary being a man of 
great candour and amiableness of character, I thought 
that the assurance I gave him of the consequence of the 
king's answery would have some effect on the cabinet. 
We agreed upon the following letter to the president of 

London, Sept. 2, 1775. 

Sir, — On the 21st of last month, we sent to the se- 
cretary of state for America, a copy of the petition from 
the general congress ; and yesterday, the first moment 
it was permitted us, we presented to him the original, 
which his lordship promised to deliver to his majesty. 
We thought it our duty to press his lordship to obtain 
an answer ; but we were informed, that as his majesty 
did not receive it on the throne, no answer would be given. 
We have the honour to be, &c. 

Richard Penn, 
Arthur Lee." 

In the spring of the year 1775, the lord mayor, al- 
dermen and livery of London^ the people of which city 


had long been distinguished in the history of England 
for their love of freedom and boldness in asserting it, 
presented in the name of its citizens, to the king and par- 
liament, a remonstrance against the colonial measures of 
the ministry. This incident produced a considerable seur 
sation in England. The style and spirit of the remon- 
strance were greatly admired; and it was extensively 
circulated throughout the kingdom. Mr. Lee wrote it at 
the request of the Common Hall. He had acquainted his 
brother, R* H. Lee, of the adoption and presentment of 
the remonstrance ; and had, at the request of the Common 
Hall, transmitted a copy of it to the congress, which body 
had assembled a second time at Philadelphia, on the 10th 
May 1773. On the 6th July it was resolved, "that a let- 
ter be prepared, to the lord mayor, aldermen and livery of 
London, expressing the thanks of this congress for their 
virtuous and spirited opposition to the oppressive and 
ruinous system of colony administration adopted by the 
British ministry." Richard Henry Lee was the chair- 
man of the committee ordered to prepare it, and penned 
the elegant letter of thanks which may be found in the 
L Vol. of the journals of the old congress, page 14«.* 
Neither of the brothers was aware of the agency which 
each had had in the production of these papers until after 
the revolution, when they disclosed to one another the 
authorship of them.t 

At this second session of the old congress another pe- 
tition ta the king, and another address to the people of 
Great Britain, were adopted. The committee who drew 
up the address to the people of Great Britain was com- 
posed of Richard H. Lee, R. R. Livingston, and Pendle- 
ton. This impressive and eloquent address was written 
by the first named gentleman, and may be found in the 
journals of congress. The petition and address were trans- 
mitted to the "Hon'ble Richard Penn, William Bolan, Ar- 
thur Lee, Edmund Burke, and Garth, Esqrs.,'' with 

the following letter signed by the president of congress, 
which will be read ,with interest. 

• 8^ Life Qf KiclMid H. Lee. p. 153. . t Id. p. 168. 9ee Jour. m. 


" Gentlemen, — ^The perseverance of the British minis* 
try in their unjust and cruel system of colony administra- 
tion has occasioned the meeting of another cong;i'ess* We 
have again appealed to the justice of our sovereign for 
protection against the destruction which his ministers 
meditate for his American subjects. 

This petition to his majesty you will please gentle- 
men to present to the king, with all convenient expedi- 
tion, after which we desire it may be given to the pub- 
lic. We likewise send you our secoqd application to the 
equity and interest of our fellow subjects in Great Bri- 
tain, and also a declaration for setting forth the causes of 
our taking up arms ; both which we wish may be immedi- 
ately put to the press, and communicated as universally 
as possible. 

The congress entertain the highest sense of the wise 
and worthy interposition of the lord mayor and livery of 
London, in favour of injured America. They have ex- 
pressed this their sense in a letter to his lordship and the 
livery, which we desire may be presented in the manner 
most agreeable to that respectable body. 

You will oblige us, gentlemen, by giving the most early 
information to congress, and to the speakers of our re- 
spective assemblies, of your proceedings in this business, 
and such further intelligence as you may judge to be of 
importance to America in this great contest. 

We are with great. regard, gentlemen, your most obe- 
dient and very humble servants, &c. 

By order of the congress* 

John Hancock, PresU.^ 
PkOadelphia, July Sth, 1775." 

Messrs. Penn and Lee presented the original to the 
king, through the secretary for the colonies, who soon re- 
plied to them that "ho answer would be given." Mr. 
Lee has endorsed on the paper from which the letter of 
the president of congress was copied, the following note 
and memorandum. 

is taken from a copy Bigned with the prendent's antograpbio signaluie- 


<*Mr, Lee and Mr. Penn present their respects to Lord 
Dartmouth, and enclose a copy of an humble and earnest 
petition from the continental congress in America to the 
king ; they mean, wiih Lord Dartmouth's permission, to 
wait on his lordship on Wednesday next at noon, with 
the original, for his lordship to present to his majesty. 

Garden Court, Middle Temple^ Aug, 21, 1775. 

To the Right Honourable the Earl of Dartmouth, 
Secretary of State tor America." 

An answer having been refused to this petition, Mr. 
Lee and Mr. Penn directed it to be printed in the public 
papers, with this advertisement prefixed: — " The follow- 
ing is a true copy of the petition from the general con- 
gress in America to his majesty, which we delivered to 
Lord Dartmouth the 1st of this month, and to which his 
lordship said no answer would be given. 

g. J Arthur Lee, 

° ' Richard Penn. 

Sept 4th, 1775.'' 

Such was the result of the second attempt of the con- 
gress to effect a return, by the English ministry, to the 
principles of the constitution, and to avoid the last resort 
of the injured and oppressed. The times were gloomy, 
and the future was dark. "Men's souls" were indeed 
now "to be tried." The following letter from Mr. James 
Lovel of Boston, to Mr. Lee, will give the reader some 
idea of the lawless and daring outrages which were com- 
mitted against the free citizens of the colonies by the 
English governors and commanders. This gentleman 
was afterwards, and for a long time, a deputy from Massa- 
chusetts to the congress, and was a conspicuous and use- 
ful member. 

" Sir, — Suffering under a most wanton exercise of 
military power, I am sure it is needless to do any thing 
further, than establish that fact as an introduction to your 
notice and benevolent exertions for me; though I am 
personally a stranger to you, however strictly intimate 
with your real character, through your m6st favoured cor- 


respondents in New England, and your political writ- 

1 ou know that General Gage, with troops from Great 
Britain, entered Boston with professions of friendship, 
and of a design to promote good order in the province. 
He erected works at the isthmus, which joins the town to. 
the main country. He declared himself shocked, upon a 
remonstrance of the county of Suffolk, suggesting ap- 
prehended danger to the inhabitants of the capital city, 
in the month of September 1774. In April 1775, a foolish 
military excursion to the town of Concord brought on the 
present warlike proceedings of America. In the week 
after that rupture, the inhabitants of my native town*were 
called upon to deliver up their arms, on condition of being 
at liberty to depart with all their effects, or to tarry under 
the general's protection. 

The papers enclosed to you herewith, will discover the . 
series of treatment which I experienced from that time. 
General Gage left Boston October 10th last year ; at 
which time 1 sent copies of all my letters and petitions, 
whereby I had aimed to regain freedom by trial, with sj^^ 
copy of General Howe's evasive answer. I wrote alsc^^ 
to the lord mayor of London ; to the printer of the Lon- 
don Mercury, and to General Gage. I suspect the bearer 
Mr. William Powell deceived me, and did not deliver the 
packet to Mr. Thomas Broomfield, merchant; or that 
the latter through timidity, suppressed the papers. 

When I was hurried from Boston jail in last March, I 
left my pocket book with my wife, but I recollected the 
most material passages in my petitions, for the informa- 
tion of my friends here, and afterwards gave them in 
charge to Mr. Michael Joy, who sailed from hence the 1 2th 
May. This worthy young man having been the protec- 
tor of my family after my arrest, can give you a very 
minute description of its miseries. 

General Gage threw me into prison, and left Gen. 
Howe with only the power of a jailor as he pretended, 
in October, though at the same time he offered to ex- 
change me for two military bfiScers. 

The present commander. Gen. Massie, declares that 

VOL. I. 7 


his hands are tied. He sent his chaplain to tell the 
prisoners, that he would take upon himself to release us 
for an equal number, if our friends would discharge such 
a number. He directed us to write letters to that pur- 
port, and said he would forward them immediately : but 
in two days after he acquainted a person who offered a 
vessel for a flag of truce, that if prisoners were actually 
to arrive here under a flag, he should be obliged to seize 
them till Gen. Howe's orders. Such is the duplicity with 
which British heroes conduct, after undertaking the task 
of kidnapping freeborn citizens ! 

I have not obtained a sight of General M assie, nor even 
one of his aids de camp. I have no prospect of release 
from jail, but through your sagacity and humane and 
generous spirit. 

Hancock and Adams art the only names excepted in the 
lying act of grace^ of June \Hh. But there is a deep . 
rancour against me for having publicly repeated, after 
judge Blackstone, what the murderers have now taught 
me by experience, ^^that slaves envy the freedom of 
thers, and take a malicious pleasure in contributing to 
estroy it." 

I must not omit to tell you that on the second of Feb. 
the general got possession of a billet, which I had given 
that morning to one going to Point Shirley. He there- 
upon ordered me to be closely locked up, and be debarred 
the use of pen, ink, and paper. They will plead this as 
a proof of my just imprisonment ; but surely, sir, it can- 
not have such a retrospective force. I was as innocent 
as an unborn infant, as to the forbidden correspondence, 
until I had been unjustly distressed in prison. The 
promised protection of June 12th, being taken from me, 
I slighted the wretches, and all their military edicts : 
and I continue to do it most cordially. 

Should you recover the papers referred to as sent in 
October and May, I am satisfied you will judge that I 
have maintained a manly spirit, under all my past op- 
pressions. I hope you will be induced to believe that no 
fresh exertions of the scientific barbarity of those who 
hold me in duress, shall bring me to any conduct that 



can be disgraceful to the patronage which I promise 
mjself jou will afford to, sir, your sincere admirer and 
suffering humble servant. 

James Lovell. 
Hali/ax, ProvosPs, June the 25/A, 1776." 

This letter from his manly and suffering fellow citi- 
zen, did not reach Mr. Lee in time to enable him to 
exert himself to procure the release of Mr. Lovell. Be- 
tween this gentleman and Mr. Lee there began a warm 
friendship and correspondence from Mr. Lee's receipt of 
this letter which continued until their death. They had 
never seen each other until the return of Mr. Lee from 
France in the year 1781, although the terms of their 
letters written during the residence of Mr. Lee abroad, 
would induce a reader to suppose they had long been 
personally acquainted. 



Blr. Lee va appointed in Dec 1775, secret Agent of Congress — Letter of the ** Se- 
cret Corresponding Committee" of Congress, acquainting him of tlie appoint- 
ment and the purpose of it — His interviews witli the French Minister at London — 
He goes to France as secret Agent, in the spring of the year 1776 — ^His interviews 
<vrith Vergennes and Tai^ot— The Result of his Mission~-In the fall of 1776, he 
48 appointed a Joint Commissioner to the Court of France, with Dr. Franklin and 
Silas Deane — Letter to Lord Shelbume-r-Interesting Anecdote of Voltaire- 
Agency for the State of Viiginia — His learned and political friends in France, 
Target, Adabson, Vergennes, Neckar, Breteuil, &c. — State of Aduirs in America 
in the winter of '1776*-7 — Memorial on this subject, from the American Com- 
ttiasionera to the Court of France — ^Written by Mr. Lee — ^Note of the Commis- 
fiioners to the same, tonching the daptnre of an American vessel on the coast of 
France — ^Mr. Lee is appointed sole Commissioner to the Court of Madrid — Goes 
to Spaiif — ^Is desired by that Court not to proceed to Madrid — His letters to the 
Commissioners inr Paris, from Victoria in Spain — ^Their Reply written by Dr. 
Franklin — ^The British Court remonstrates with that of Spain against the recep- 
tion of Mr. Lee — ^His Correspondence on this subject — ^His Memorial to the 
Court of Spain on the subject of his Mission — Results of it — He returns to Paris 
-—Is sent to Berlin as Conmiissioner to the Court of Prussia — Letter from Berlin 
to General Waahington — Spanish Papers. 

In the month of November 1775, the congress ap- 
pointed a committee for the purpose of secretly corres- 
ponding with the friends of the colonies, " in Great Bri- 
tain, Ireland, and in other parts of the world."* The prin- 
cipal object of this committee was to ascertain the feel- 
ings and views of the courts of France and Spain, in regard 
to the dispute between the colonies and Great Britain ; 
and how far they would be disposed to assist them in arms, 
ammunition and money, and eventually to form trea- 
ties of commerce and alliance W^ith them. It was known 
that France bad not been ap idle spectator of the con- 
test between Great Britain and her colonies. The con- 
gress was desirous of ascertaining more directly her 
vifBWS on this subject. To enable them to attain their 
object, the committee was authorized to appoint secret 


* See Secrot Jovraali, Tol. L 


agents abroad to aid them in obtaining tbe most authen- 
tic information on every point on wEich it was important 
to have certain intelligence* The committee, which was 
stjled " the Secret Committee of Congress," appointed 
Mn Lee their secret agent in London. Of this appoint- 
ment he was informed by a letter from that committee, 
which is here inserted from the original MS. in the hand- 
writing of Dr. Franklin* with the signatures of Dr. 
Franklin, John Dickinson and John Jay, in their hand- 
writing. This letter cannot fail to interest the reader, 
for it contains the views of congress, at an early and mo- 
mentous period of the revolution, on subjects of the last 

Philadelphia, Dec. i2tfa| 1775. 

« Sir, — By this conveyance we have the pleasure of 
transmitting to you sundry printed papers, that such of 
them as you think proper may be immediately published 
in England. 

We have written on the subject of American affairs 
to Monsieur C. G. F. Dumas, who resides at the Hague. 
We recommend to you to correspond with him, and to 
send through his hands any letters to us which you can- 
not send more directly. He will transmit them via St. 
Eustatia. When you write to him direct your letter 
thus, ' A Mons : Mons : C. G. F. Dumas, cher Mad. 
le V. Loder a la Hague,' and, put it under cover, direct- 
ed to Mr. A. Stucky, merchant, at Rotterdam. 

Mr. Story may Jbe trusted with any despatches you 
think proper to send us. You will be so kind as to aid 
and advise him. 

It would be agreeable to congress to know the dispose 
tion of foreign powers towards- us, and we hope this ob- 
ject will engage your attention. We need not hint that 
ffr«a/ eireumspection and impenetrable secresy are necessary. 
The congress rely on your zeal and abilities to serve 
them, and will readily compensate you for whatever 
trouble and expense a compliance with their desire may 
occasion. We remit you for the present £200. 

Whenever you think the importance of your des- 


patches may require it, we desire you to send an express 
boat with them from England, for which service your 
agreement with the owner there shall be fulfilled by us 

We can now only add that we continue firm in our 
resolutions to defend ourselves, notwithstanding the big 
ihfeats of the ministry. We have just taken one of their 
ordnance storeships, in which an abundance of carcasses 
and bombs intended for burning our towns, were found. 

With great esteem we are, sir, your most obedient 

humble servants. 

B. Franklin, ^ ^ ... /. 
J Y% t \ Committee of 

John 3^,''' S ^^"'"1«^«**- 
Arthur Lee^ Esq. 

In the capacity of agent for the ^secret committee of 
congress Mr. Lee acted with, a zeal yet more active than 
he had heretofore done, and with more assured confidence 
exerted himself in behalf of his country. Feeling that 
his new character as agent for so respectable a body as 
the continental congress gave more importance and im- 
parted more weight to his efibrts as its authority empow- 
ered him to enlarge them, he gave free course to his active 
and patriotic mind. From this time until he left England 
he devoted himself almost entirely to public concerns. 

As soon as he received the foregoing letter from the 
secret committee, he sought and obtained several inter* 
views with the French ambassador at the court of Great 
Britain, and urged upon the attention of his court the di- 
rect interest of France, in affording to the colonies the 
cheerings of her friendship, and even her aid. In conse- 
quence of these conferences with the French ambassa- 
dor, the count de Vergennes, then the prime minister of 
Lewis the 1 6th,an able and enlightened statesman to whom 
the colonies were deeply indebted, sent a gentleman^ in 
a confidential manner to Mr. Lee in London, to inform 
him <^ that the French court could not think of entering 

* Thii penoi wat Moof. Ctioii de Bmimirrhniit 


into a war with England; but that they would assist 
America by sending from Holland this fall £200,000 worth 
of arms and ammunition to St. Eustatia, Martinique or 
Cape Francois ; that application was to be made to the go- 
vernors or commandants of those places, by enquiring for 
Mons. Hortalez ; and that on persons properly authorized 
applying, the above articles would be delivered to them." 
Mr. Lee immediately informed Mr. Storey , (the gentleman 
mentioned in the foregoing letter from the secret com- 
mittee) who had been sent hy that committee on a se- 
cret agency to France, Holland and England. This gen- 
tleman did not reach America with this important intelli- 
gence until several months afterwards.* 

In the winter of 1776 Mr. Lee repaired to Paris by 
the direction of the secret committee of congress (to 
which committee that body had intrusted all its business 
with foreign agents and foreign courts), as their secret 
agent, to improve the favourable disposition of France 
towards the colonies. In this capacity he was received 
and was kindly and respectfully treated by Count Ver- 
gennes. The reader can well imagine with what earnest- 
ness and ability he availed himself of the opportunity 
DOW afforded him of placing the situation, character and 
concerns of his country in favourable and interesting 
views before the mind of Vergennes. Mr. Lee did not 
confine his exertions to the French ministry alone, but 
laboured to produce the same sentiments in the minds of 
distinguished and influential men in France who held no 
official stations ; and to awaken a feeling of good will 
towards America in the French nation. To enable him 
to do this, he obtained the acquaintance of the class of 
. men just alluded to, and wrote short and popular pieces 
in the journals of the day calculated to inform the pub- 
lic mind of the amount of the population of the colonies, 
the products of their country, and the commercial advan- 
tages they held out to France. There were at this 

* See the first No. of the American Qnarterijr Review, which contains a very in- 
teresting article, " The Secret Journals of the old Congress.*' The writer of it had 
access to the joiirtioi of the secret eommittee, from which he has given extracts 
confirming tlie aceonnt here given of Mr. Lee*B agency in the incipient and important 
veg otiationi of the United Statea with Franco. 


time in France manj men who had great influence 
on public opinion, though they held no offices under the 
government, and took little part in what might be termed 
practical politics. .They obtained this influence from the 
fame of their learning and from their political writings. 
To them Mr. Lee found an easy access; and his literary 
and scientific acquirements proved of essential advantage 
(as well as a source of enjoyment in his intercourse with 
them), in gaining their attention to the afiairs of America* 
Among these persons the celebrated Turgot held a con- 
spicuous place. Mr. Lee cultivated his acquaintance, and 
presented to his enthusiastic mind the character of his 
countrymen as a brave people, warmly and obstinately at- 
tached to freedom ; and to his judgment, the policy of 
France in assisting them in wresting from England their 
political independence. Impressed by the forcible repre- 
sentation of Mr. Lee, the Count de Vergennes in the 
spring of '76 presented to the king a memorial on Ameri- 
can^ afiairs, accompanied with rellectidns of Turgot on 
the subject of it. The policy advised by this memorial 
and enforced by the reflections of Mons.Turgot,was *' to fa- 
cilitate to the colonists the means of procuring in the way 
of commerce the articles and even the money which they 
needed ; but without departing from neutrality, and with- 
out giving them direct succours." This aid, even thus 
furnished, was as much as Mr. Lee could anticipate at 
this time. 

To carry into effect this plan of assisting the Ameri- 
cans, Vergennes directed the same secret agent whom he 
had sent to London in December '75 to w^it on Mr. Lee, 
and inform him of the views and determination of the 
French court respecting America. Mr. Lee transmitted 
this highly important intelligence to the secret committee, 
through the same gentleman to whom he had conimunicated 
the message of Vergennes delivered to him in London in 
the preceding fall. This gentleman (Mr. Storey) reached 
Philadelphia, and imparted the information of the official 
promise of aid from the court of France to Dr. Franklin 
and Robert Morris, two of the committee, on the first of 
October 1776. The minutes or journals of this iransac- 



Ijon kept bj the committee^ are here taken from an ex-* 
tract from their journal, to be found in the article refer*- 
red to in the ably conducted and useful periodical, the 
American Quarterly Review, page 132, &c. After stat- 
ing the information received (as they say) from Mr, Ar- 
thur Lee through Mr. Storey, the two members of the 
committee just named thus proceed : 

"Philadelphia, October 1st, 1776, — The above in- 
telligence was communicated to the subscribers, being 
the only two members of the committee of secret corre- 
spondence now in this city ; and on our considering the na- 
ture and importance of it, we agree in opinion that it is 
our indispensable duty to keep it a secret, even from con- 
gress, for the following reasons : . 

1st. Should it get to the ears of our enemies at New- 
York, they would undoubtedly take measures to intercept 
these supplies, and thereby deprive os not only of these 
succours but of others expected by the same route. 

2d. As the court of France have taken measures to 
negotiate this loan and succour in the most cautious 
and secret manner, should we divulge it immediately we 
may not only lose the present benefit, but also render 
that court cautious of any further connexion with such 
unguarded people, and prevent their granting other loans 
and assistance we stand in need of, and have directed 
Mr. Deane to ask of them ; for it appears from all our 
intelligence they are not disposed to enter into an imme- 
diate war with Great Britain, though disposed to support 
us in our contest with them ; we therefore think it our 
duty to cultivate their favourable disposition towards us, 
to draw from them all the support we can ; and in the 
end their private aid must assist us to establish peace, 
or inevitably draw them as parties to the war. 

3d. We find by fatal experience, the congress consists 
of too many members to keep secrets, as none could be 
more strongly enjoined than the present embassy to 
France, notwithstanding which, Mr. Morris was this day 
asked by Mr. Rees Meredith, whether Dr. Franklin and 
others were really going ambassadors to Francoi which 

VOL. ]• 8 


plainly proves that this committee ought to keep this 
secret, if secresy is required. 

4th, We are of opinion that it is unnecessary to inform 
congress of this intelligence at present, because Mr, Mor- 
ris belongs to all the committees that can properly be 
employed in receiving and impcwting the expected sup- 
plies from Martinique, and will influence the necessary 
measures for that purpose ; indeed, we have already au^ 
thorized William Bingham, Esq. to apply at Martinique 
and St. Eustatius for what comes there, and remit part 
by the armed sloop Independence, Capt. Young, promis- 
ing to send others for the rest. 

Mr. Morris will apply to the marine committee to send 
other armed vessels after her, and also to Cape Francois, 
(without communicating this advice) in consequence of 
private intelligence lately received, that arms, ammuni- 
tion and clothing, can now be procured at those places. 

But should unexampled misfortune befal the states of 
America, so as to depress the spirits of congress, it is our 
opinion that on any event of th^t kind, Mr. Morris (if 
Dr. Franklin should be absent) should communicate this 
important matter to congress, otherwise keep it until part 
or the whole supplies arrive, unless other events happen 
to render the communication of it more proper than it 
appears to be at present." 

The reviewer, in the article just referred to, adds to 
these minutes of the committee this observation : " This 
was signed by Dr. Franklin and Mr. Morris, and soon 
after approved by Richard H. Lee and Mr. Hooper, two 
other members of the committee." 

From the spring of the year 1776 until the fall of it, 
Mr. Lee remained in Paris as a secret agent of congress. ' 
He then returned to England, and resided in London 
until the month of December, when having received an 
official notification of his appointment as a commissioner 
to France, he repaired again to Paris. His conduct in 
the capacity of a secret agent in France, had given great ' 
satisfaction to that body. He did not confine himself 
within the exact line of his instructions, as agent to the 
French court. He sought and improved the acquaint- 


ance of the ambassadors of the different powers then in 
Paris ; and by turning their attention to the struggle of 
the British colonies in North America, and by giving 
them correct information concerning their affairs, he in- 
spired them with respect and interest for his country. 
He particularly sought to engage the consideration of 
the Spanish ambassador, and through him, of his court. 
He had so far succeeded in gaining the serious attention 
of the Spanish minister, before the arrival of the commis* 
sioners from America, and before the appointment of a 
representative to the court of Spain, that he had actually 
proposed to that court to join France in secretly aiding 
the United States with money, arms and other warlike 

In the month of September (the colonies having de- 
clared themselves free and independent states in the pre- 
ceding July) the congress proceeded to establish diplo- 
matic intercourse with foreign nations, and to appoint 
commissioners to represent the United States, at those 
courts which they considered of the most importance and 
power. Mr. Lee was elected, with Silas Deane, Esq. as 
one of a joint commission to the court of France, with 
whom Dr. Franklin was afterwards joined. He was 
made acquainted with the honour thus conferred upon 
him, through a letter from the secret committee, which 
had been styled, since the declaration of independencCi 
** Committee of Correspondence.'^ 

PHII.ADELP01A, Oct. 23, 1776. 

^ Arthur Lee, Esq. 

Sir, — By this conveyance we transmit to Silas Deane, 
Esq. a resolve of the honourable continental congress of 
delegates from the thirteen United States of America, 
whereby you are appointed one of their commissioners 
for negotiating a treaty of alliance, amity and commerce, 
with the court of France, and also for negotiating trea- 
ties with other nations, agreeably to certain plans and 
instructions of congress, which we have transmitted by 
various conveyances to Mr. Deane, another of the com- 
missioners. We have requested him to give you imme- 
diate notice to join him, and on jour meeting to deliver 


this letter and lay before you all the papers and instruc- 
tions, also to deliver you the resolve whereby you are 
appointed. We flatter ourselves from the assurance of 
our friends here, that you will cheerfully undertake this 
important business, and that our country will greatly be- 
nefit of those abilities and that attachment you have al- 
ready manifested in sundry important services, which at 
a proper period shall be made known to those you wish. 

This committee will think it proper to address all their 
despatches unto Mr. Deane, until they have certain ad* 
vice that his colleagues have joined him, but the com- 
munication of them will be the same as if addressed to 
the whole. 

We remain with much regard and esteem, sir, your 
most obedient, humble servants, 

Robert Morris, 
Benjamin Franklin." 

In the following letter Mr. Lee alludes to the promise 
of aid made to him by the court of France while he re- 
iqained'in London, and of which he had informed con- 
gress, through Mr. Storey. It conveys to congress his 
thanks for the honour they had done him, in terms of 
warm love for his country. 

Parib» Dec. 31, 1776. 

" To the honourable committee of correspondence, 

Gentlemen, — I had the honour of receiving your favour 
of the 31st Oct., announcing to me my appointment as 
one of the commissioners from the congress of the United 
States of America. I cannot express how much I am 
obliged to that most respectable body, for giving me an 
opportunity of showing how much I prefer the service of 
my country and her present cause, to every other pursuit 
and situation in life. 

I had the happiness of joining Dr. Franklin and Mr. 
Deane the day after the arrival of the former at this 
place. We have employed every moment in preparing 
the way for fulfilling the purport of our mission. It is 
impossible to say yet in what degree we shall be* able to 
accomplish our instructions and our wishes. The poli- 


tics of Europe are in a state of trembling hesitation. It 
is in consequence of this that I find the promises that 
were made me by the French agent in London, and 
which I stated to you by Mr, Storey and others, have not 
been entirely fulfilled. The changing of the mode of 
conveying what was promised was settled with Mr. 
Deane, whom Mr. Hortalez found here on his return, and 
with whom all the arrangements were afterwards made. 
I hope you will have received some of the supplies long 
before this reaches you. Infinitely short as they are of 
what was promised iu quantity, quality and time, I trust 
they will be of very material service in the operations of 
the next campaign. It is that to which, to use the ex- 
pression of our arch enemy, we must look ; and no exer- 
tions in preparing for it can be too great, because the 
events of it must be very decisive. 

I have the honour to be, gentlemen, your very obe- 
dient servant, Arthur Lee. 

It will not much interrupt the continuity of Mr. Lee's 
occupations at the court of France, to introduce here 
a beautiful letter of Mr. Lee, written in reply to Lord 
Shelburne, who had given to the Abbe Raynal a letter 
of introduction to him. It may be proper to mention 
that Mr. Lee for several years before he left England, 
had enjoyed the friendship of that estimable nobleman, 
one of the earliest and steadiest friends of the colonies 
among the English politicians and ministers. They con- 
tinued to correspond long after the war between their 
respective nations had ceased, and the independence of 
the United States had been acknowledged by Great Bri- 
tain. The reader will find in Appendix, No. 10, and 
will peruse with no fittle pleasure, the letters of Lord 
Shelburne, (afterwards the Marquis of Lansdown) to 
Mr. Lee, on the subject of the federal constitution of the 
United States, which had been proposed to the people 
for adoption, and had become at the period when some 
of the letters of the marquis were writen, a topic of 
anxious discussion by American statesmen.* 

* The rwder will find an interesting letter in the " Memoiis** of Mr. Lee, No. 
2» of the Appendizy to Pr. Priestley, in which he ghree the Dr.f who had asked it. 


Paris, Dec. 23d, 1776. 

" To the Right Honourable the earl of Shelburne. 

My Lord, — A very few hours after my last letter to 

rour lordship brought me the desire of my country, that 
should serve her in a public character. Your lordship 
thinks too v^^ell of me, I hope, to suppose I could hesitate 
a moment. In fact almost the same minute saw me bid 
adieu perhaps forever to a country where 1 had fixed my 
fortunes, and to a people whom I most respected and 
could have loved. But the first object of my life is my 
country, the first wish of my heart iis public liberty. I 
must see therefore the liberties of my country established, 
or perish in her last struggle. 

In truth I have long despaired even of a struggle for 
liberty in England, — I will not insult Scotland with the 
idea. It is not the subtle Wedderburne, poisoning the 
fountain of public security ; nor the ruthless Thurlow 
deliberately butchering the liberties of his country, that 
makes me despair; but — and yet perhaps the people 
only are not virtuous, and America may yet, with a sort 
of filial piety, reanimate her expiring constitution. Our 
pater patriae,! with whom and Mr. Deane I am joined in 
power, is in good health and spirits- If fate will have 
it that America, as she has reared her temples and her 
altars to liberty, must furnish her victims too, I know 
not where she can find a sacrifice more respectable. 

Should the event of this measure be. found fatal to 
England, it is the perfidy of her ministers, which 
would never offer any thing that could be trusted, that 
compel it, and to which the consequences are justly im- 

I beg your lordship to remember me as one who can 
never cease to have the most perfect esteem for you. 
I have communicated to the Abbe Raynal all the facts I 
could collect in answer to his questions. He will write 
to you soon. 

hifl opinion of the character of Lord Sbelborne. The Dr. had been solicited bj his 
lordship to become the tutor of his eldest son. 
t Dr. Fraokila. 


May I beg be remembered to our friends in the 
college and ^ those out of it, who I hope will always do 
me the honour of remembering me, — Col. Barre, Mr. 
Dunning, Dr. Priestley, Dr. Price, &c. &c. 

I have the honour of being your friend and humble 
servant, Arthur Lee.'' 

The two other commissioners having now joined Mr. 
Lee at Paris, they immediately commenced their confer- 
ences and negotiations with the court of France.* On 
the 5th January 1777, they presented to that court the 
following memorial. 

" To his excellency Count de Vergennes, 

The congress the belter to defend thfeir coasts, pro- 
tect their trade, and drive off the enemy, have instruct- 
ed us to apply to France for eight ships of the line, com- 
pletely manned, the expense of which they will under- 
take to pay ; as other princes of Europe are lending or 
hiring their troops to Britain against America, it is ap- 
prehended that France may if she thinks fit, afford our 
independent states the same kind of aid without giving 
England any first cause of complaint. But if England 
should on that account declare war, we conceive that by 
the united force of France, Spain and America, she will 
lose all her possessions in the West Indies, much the 
greatest part of that commerce which has rendered her so 
opulent, and be reduced to that state of weakness and 
humiliation she has by her perfidy, her insolence and 
her cruelty, both in the east and the west so justly me- 

We are also instructed to solicit the court of France, 
for an immediate supply of 20 or 30,000 muskets and 
bayonets, and a large quantity of ammunition and brass 
field pieces, to be sent under convoy. The United 

* Mr. Lee oflen related an anecdote which ocenrred soon af\er the American 
commiasionera arrived. Voltaire was then danyrously ill in Paris, where he shortly 
after died. He bad warmly espoused the cause of the Americans. The commia^ 
flionera reqaeated to be permitted to wait on him, which Voltaire cheerfully granted. 
As they entered the room he raised himself feebly up in his bed, and in a moment- 
aiy glow of enthusiasm, repeated some beautiful lines from Thompson's Ode to 
lib^ty, commeiiciDg <* Oh liberty, thou goddess ever bright," Ac. 

•4 LIFE or 

States engage for the payment of the arms, artillery and 
ammunition, and to defray the expense of the convoy. 
This application has now become the more necessary, as 
the private purchase made by Mr. Deane of those ar- 
ticles is rendered ineffectual, by an order forbidding their 

We also beg it may be particularly considered that 
while the English are masters of the American seas, ^nd 
can without fear of interruption, transport with such ease, 
their army from one part of our extensive coast to an- 
other, and we can only meet them by land-marches, we 
may possibly unless some powerful aid is given us, or 
some strong diversion be made in our favour, be so bar* 
rassed and be put to such immense distress, as that final- 
ly our people will find themselves reduced to the ne- 
cessity of ending the war by an accommodation. 

The courts of France and Spain may rely with the 
fullest confidence, that whatever stipulations are made 
by us, in case of granting such aid, will be ratified and 
punctually fulfilled by the congress, who are determined 
to found their future character with regard to justice and 
fidelity on a full and perfect performance of all their 
present engagements. 

North America now offers to France and Spain her 
amity and commerce. She is also ready to guaranty 
in the firmest manner to those nations all her present 
possessions in the West Indies, as well as those they 
shall acquire from the enemy, 4n a war that may be con- 
sequential of such assistance as she requests. The in- 
terests of the three nations are the same. The oppor- 
tunity of cementing them and of securing all the advan- 
tasres of that commerce which in time will be immense, 
now presents itself. If neglected it may never again 
return. And vi^e (iannot help suggesting that a consider- . 
able delay may be attended with fatal consequences.* 

Benjamin Franklin, 

Silas Deane, 

\rthur Lee, 
Commissioners of the Congress ofJV. idm^ca.^^ 

* On the paper fiom t^bich this mamonal 'm copied, Mr. Lee has endooed, ** prt* 
•eiited to Count Vergeimee, through Mom. Giisid, Jan. 5tb, 1777." 

' \ 


In the month of December 1777, Congress resolved 
to appoint commissioners to the courts of Vienna, Spain, 
Prussia, and the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In the 
month of May, Mr. Lee was appointed sole commis- 
sioner to the court of Spain, by virtue of the following 

^< Resolvedj That a commission be made out and sent 
to Arthur Lee, Esq. empowering him in behalf of the 
United States, to transact such business at the court of 
Spain as shall be intrusted to him by congress, agree- 
ably to the instructions that may be given him, and trans- 
mitted by the Committee of Foreign Affairs.^'* At the 
same time William Lee, Esq, a brother of Arthur Lee, i 
\v\io had been acting as an agent of the colonies at the / 
Hague, was appointed commissioner to the courts of Vi- 
enna and Berlin, and Ralph Iszard, Esq. was appointed 
in the same capacity to the court of the Grand Duke of 
Tuscany. These appointments are here metitioned be- 
cause many of the letters of both these gentlemen are 
still preserved among the MSS. of Mr, Lee, and are too 
interesting and too important to the. history of the Unit- 
ed States, to be omitted in his correspondence. They 
^ill be found in No, 7 of the Appendix, The commis- 
sion to Mr. Lee may be found in the second volinne of 
the secret journals of the old congress, p, 46. 

The commissioners to the court of France were fur- 
nished with the plan of a treaty to be presented to that 
court accompanied with detailed instructions, which will 
be seen in No. 4 of the Appendix.(a) In pursuance of 
their instructions they immediately proposed to form a 
treaty of alliance and commerce with France. But France 
had suflTered so severely in the late war with Great Bri- 
tain, that she declined for the present entering into any 
sort of treaty with the United States, lest it should be 
considered • by England a violation of neutrality, and a 
cause of war against France. The commissioners how- 
ever pressed the subject from time to time on the atten- 
tion of the French ministry. The utniost good will was 
entertained by the king and his cabinet towards the Unit- 


* See Seeret Joiixiiali» kc toI. il p. 44. 
VOL. I« 9 


ed States. They were furnished with a large supply of 
warlike stores, and a loan of money was granted. Every 
thing was done with alacrity which could be done with 
secrecy to aid the United States m carrying on the war. 
The cause of America was exceedingly popular with the 
French people. It became a theme of enthusiastic ap- 
plause with their orators and poets, and a subject of in- 
terest and reflection to their practical and theoretic states- 

In reply to the foregoing memorial the commissioners 
received from the king a communication explaining his 
views in regard to the United States. They were such 
as have been stated. To this communication the com- 
missioners replied as follows. 

*^ We thank Mons. Girard for the polite and explicit 
maimer in which he has communicated his majesty's 

We beg to retprn our most grateful sense of the gra- 
cious intentions which his majesty has had the goodness 
to signify to our states, and to assure his majesty that 
we shall ever retain 4:he warmest gratitude for the sub- 
stantial proofs he has given us of his regard, and that we 
will endeavour in due time to impress our constituents 
with the same sentiments. 

We feel the. strength of the reasons his majesty ha3 
been pleased to assign for the conduct he means to hold ; . 
and the magnanimity of his motives. We beg leave to 
assure his majesty that we shall at all times and in all 
things endeavour to conform ourselves to the views he has 
opened for us, as nothing is farther from our intentions 
than to precipitate his majesty into any measures Vi^hich 
his royal wisdom and justice may disapprove. And if in 
any thing we should contravene those purposes, we shall 
always be happy and ready to amend it according to the 
advice and direction of government.* 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Signed, ' Silas Deane, 

Arthur Lee. 

Paris, January 14tt, 1^77." 

• Thif reply if Ukea from the onginal MSS. written by Mr. I«ee. 


The reader will recollect how dark and forboding were 
the prospects of the United States in the winter of 1777. 
The successes of the British armies already in America, 
and the increasing vigour of the ministry in taking mea- 
sures to prosecute the war by means of additional troops 
from England and Germany, had caused the deepest de- 
jection in the minds of the people, and had disappointed 
the courts of Europe most friendly to us. The court of 
France was operated upon by this state of things, and act- 
ed with more and more caution towards the United States. 
The commissioners however did not despond ; but re- 
doubled their efforts to enlist France actively and openly 
in our behalf. They urged upon the French ministry 
that the distressed and threatened condition of their coun- 
try made it more and more the policy of France to take 
part with North America at orice^ in order to save the 
states and rescue them forever from the dominion of 
Great Britain ; and thus secure an opportunity which 
might now be lost of increasing the strength, safety and 
commerce of France. The following interesting memo- 
rial presenting and enforcing these views and arguments 
of the commissioners, was drawn up by Mr. Lee, approv- 
ed by his colleagues, and presented by him to Count 
de Vergennes. The perilous condition of the states of 
Maryland and Virginia is strongly represented, 

".Paris, February 1st, 1777. 

Messrs. Franklin, Deane and Lee, ministers from the 
congress of the United States, beg leave to represent to 
his excellency the Count de Vergennes, that besides the 
general alarming accounts of the success of the English 
against their country they have just received authentic 
intelligence from England that eight thousand men, chief- 
ly Germans, under the command of General Burgoyne, 
are to be sent early in the spring to America, and to be 
employed, with sohkj ships of war, in the invasion of 
Virginia and Maryland. 

That if not by some means diverted from their design 
it will be in their power to destroy a great part of those 
states, as the houses and estates of the principal inhabi- 


tants are situated on the navigable waters, and so sepa- 
rated from each other as to be incapable of being defend- 
ed from armed vessels conveying troops, the place of 
whose landing cannot be foreseen, and consequently force 
cannot be assembled in all places sufficient to oppose 

That great danger is also apprehended from the 
blacks of those states, who, being excited and armed by 
the British, may greatly strengthen the invaders, at the 
the same time that the fear of their insurrection will pre- 
vent the white inhabitants from leaving their places of 
residence and assembling in such numbers for their own 
defence against the English as otherwise they might do. 

That the greatest part of the tobacco of those states 
is probably collected as usual in the warehouses of the 
inspectors, which are also situated on navigable waters, 
and will be liable to be taken and destroyed by the in- 
vaders ; that the destruction of these two states probably 
may make a great impression on the people in the rest, 
who, seeing no prospect of assistance from any European 
power, may be more inclined to listen to terms of ac- 

That the supplies of arms and ammunition of war 
which they have been made to expect from France, hav- 
ing been by various means delayed and retarded, are not 
likely to arrive before the commencement of the next 
campaign, and may perhaps be despaired of, especially if 
those supplies are to be carried first to the French islands. 

That notwithstanding the measures taken to convince 
the court of Britain that France does not countenance 
the Americans, that court, according to our information, 
believes firmly the contrary ; and it i^ submitted to the 
consideration of your excellency, whether, if the English 
make a conquest of the American states, they will not 
take the first opportunity of showing their resentment, 
by beginning themselves the war that would otherwise 
be avoided ; and perhaps beginning it as they did the 
last, without any previous declaration. 

That upon the whole, we cannot on this occasion omit 
expressing our apprehensionsi that if Britain 18 now suf- 


fered to recover the colonies and annex again their great 
growing strength and commerce to her own, she will be- 
come in a few years the most formidable power, by sea 
and land, that Europe has yet seen, and assuredly, from 
the natural pride and insolence of that people, a power 
to all the other states the most pernicious and intoler- 

We would therefore, with all deference submit it to 
the wisdom of his majesty and his ministers, whether, if 
the independence of the United States of America, with 
the consequent diminution of British power, and the 
freedom of commerce with them, be s^n object of import- 
ance to all Europe, and to France in particular, this is 
not the proper time for effectual exertions in their fa- 
vour ; aiid for commencing that war, which can scarcely 
be much longer avoided, and which will be sanctified by 
this best of justifications, that a much injured and inno- 
cent people will thereby bei protected and delivered from 
cruel oppression, and secured in the enjoyment of their 
just rights ; than which, nothing can contribute more to 
the glory of his majesty and of this nation. 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Signed, - Silas Deane, 

Arthur Lee. 

To his excellency the Count de Vergennes?^ 

The author has found among the MSS. of Mr. Lee, a 
paper with a note attached to it, both signed by the 
three commissioners, and containing private resolutions 
-for their own conduct. The note is in the hand-writing 
of Mr. Lee. It contains sentiments of devotion to their 
country most honourable to the commissioners,^nd touch- 
ing .to the heart of an American reader. 

« Pari 8, Feb. % 1777. 

We the commissioners plenipotentiary from the con- 
gress of the United States of America are unanimously 
of opinion, that if France or Spain should conclude a 
treaty of amity and commerce with our states, and enter 
into a war wiUi Great Britain in consequence of that, or 


of open aid given to our states, it will be very right and 
proper for us, or in the absence of the others, for any one 
of us, to stipulate and agree that the United Stales shall 
not separately conclude a peace, nor aid Great Britain 
against France or Spain, nor intermit their best exer- 
tions against Great Britain during the continuance of 
such war. Provided always, that France and Spain do 
on their part enter into a similar stipulation with our 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Silas Deane, 
Arthur Lee." 

(Note attached to the foregoing paper.) 

" Paris, Feb. 5, 1777. 

It is further considered that in the present perils of 
the liberties of our country, it is our duty to hazard 
every thing in their support and defence ; therefore re- 
solved unanimously, that if it should be necessary to the 
attainment of any thing in our best judgment essential to 
the defence and support of the public cause, that we 
should pledge our persons, or hazard the censure of the 
congress, by exceeding our instructions, we will for such 
purpose most cheerfully resign our personal liberty or 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Signed, Silas Deane, 

Arthur Lee." 

About this time a vessel belonging to the United States 
was captured by a British armed ship, so near to the 
French coast as in the opinion of the commissioners to 
violate the neutrality and insult the dignity of France. 
They received at the same time information from Eng- 
land, that a fleet had been ordered to cruise near the 
French coast, in order to intercept some merchantmen 
laden with tobacco for the use of congress, which had 
sailed from the United States. To prevail on this pur- 
pose, as well as to urge France to interfere, and if pos- 


sible to brbg her into collision with Great Britain, 
(which was, it is manifest, the secret object and wish of 
the commissioners) Mr. Lee drew up a communication 
to the Count de Vergennes, on the subject of the cap- 
ture of the American vessel, and the threatened danger 
to the tobacco ships. The author finds the MS. in the 
hand-writing of Mr. Lee, endorsed ^' drawn up hy A. 
Lee." It is too interesting to be omitted. 

" The commissioners from the United States of Ame- 
rica desire to represent to his excellency Count Ver- 
gennes, that they have received authentic information of 
a vessel belonging to the states having been taken by the 
Calloden ship of war, belonging to his Britannic majesty, 
close to the coast of France ; and that the same ship of 
war chased another vessel belonging to the states so near 
to the French shore, as to be put in imminent danger of 
running aground. 

They have been farther informed, that in consequence 
of intelligence given by the mate who lately betrayed an 
American ship Into the enemy's hands, that a large fleet 
from Maryland and Virginia, laden with tobacco, might 
soon be expected upon the French coast, the government 
of Great Britain have ordered an additional number of 
ships of war to cruise there in order to intercept them ; 
and have given encouragement to individuals to fit out 
small privateers, which may run in nearer shore than is 
safe for large ships. 

The commissioners therefore pray that his majesty 
will signify to the court of Great Britain his sense of the 
impropriety of such proceedings, and his resolution to 
maintain the neutrality of his coast ;. and that ships of 
war be immediately ordered to cruise for that purpose. 

The loss of those tobacco ships would be not only a 
great loss to the states and detrimental to the commerce 
of France, but would disable them ta fulfil their contracts 
with the Farmers General, so punctually as is necessary, 
and as they desire. They are therefore more earnest in 
wishing that no moment may be lost in rendering the 
coast of France secure, in the navigation of it, from the 
intended depredation of Great Britain. 


The commissioners submit it to the consideration of 
his majesty, whether, agreeable to the laws of neutrality, 
the American vessel taken by the Culloden British ship, 
Capt. Balfour, upon the coast of France, ought not to be 
demanded of the British court, to be restored to those 
who claim her. 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Silas Deane, 
Arthur Lee. 
To his excellency Count Vergennes.^^ 

In pursuance of the resolution of congress to appoint 
commissioners to the several courts before mentioned, 
Dr. Franklin had been commissioned to negotiate with 
Spain previously to the appointment of Mr. Lee to that 
court. It has been stated that while he was acting as 
the secret agent of congress at Paris, he had held sev- 
eral conferences with the Spanish ambassador ; and had 
succeeded so far in exciting an interest in his mind for the 
people of the United States, as to prevail on him to re- 
present to his court their situation, and the desire of con- 
gress to establish a friendly understanding with Spain, 
He had succeeded in obtaining a promise from the Span- 
ish court of secret assistance in money. Having inform- 
ed congress of the friendly disposition of Spain, the 
commissioners had been instructed to cultivate it. In 
order more effectually to do this they, considered it of 
importance to depute one of their body to Madrid. Mr. 
Lee was selected for this mission ; and had left Paris, 
and was on bis way to Spain before the arrival of the de- 
spatches from congress acquainting them of the appoint- 
ment of Dr. Franklin, a commissioner to the court of 

Mr. Lee left Paris in February 1777, and proceeded 
to Victoria and thence to Burgoss. Dr. Franklin de- 
clined the appointment' to Spain, and acquainted con- 
gress with his reasons. Mr. Lee was afterwards, on the 
1st May of that year, appointed sole commissioner to 
Spain, anrl by a resolution of congress this appointment 
was declared not to interrupt or discontinue his powers 
and duties as a joint commissioner to the court of France. 



As the condition and the future interests of the Unit^ 
ed States rendered the countenance and aid of the great 
powers of Europe of vital importance to them ; and as 
their relations with the court of Spain became important 
and difficult towards the close of the war and for some 
years after it, a selection from Mr. Lee's numerous 
papers on Spanish affairs in this place and in the Appen- 
dix of this work, cannot fail to interest the reader and 
furnish valuable matter for future history.* On Mr. 
Lee's way to Spain he wrote the following letter to the 
corresponding committee of congress* 

^ Botr&DBAUX, Februiuy 18th, 1777. 

Gentlemen, — On my arrival here on my way to 
Madrid, I found a letter dated Feb. 2d, from a confiden- 
tial correspondent, which contains the following pas- 
sages. ^ Ten thousand Germans are already engaged, 
and ships sent to convey them ; the number of British 
cannot exceed three thousand, and those very indifferent ; 
but much is expected from their being sent early. Boston 
is certainly to be attacked in the spring. Burgoyne will 
command. Howe will probably attack Philadelphia. 
The government expect great advantage from dissensions 
in Pennsylvania.' 

* Finding that our commerce here labours under great 
difficulties from the heavy duties laid on fish, oil, wax, 
&c., I have directed an account of it to be transmitted 
to your commissioners at Paris, together with an esti- 
mate of the imports and exports during the last year 
from the United States, that they may be the better en- 
abled, to negotiate an alleviation or removal of the duties, 
which were originally intended to discourage the British 

I had the honour of stating to yoti a year ago that 
tofiacco was the most weighty political engine we 
could employ with the French court. It is absolutely 

* 'Qee Appendix, No. 7. Mr. Lee received daring the whole war conntant infor- 
mation of what was going on in England, from two gentlemen who were native 
Americans^ bat who eoald not leave England. They were Messrs. Edmand Jen- 
nk^ and — - Brigdene. They wrote under feigned names. Their letten will b« 
fovnd in Appendix, No. 7. 

VOL. I* 10 


necessary to the Farmers General, and the Fanners as 
absolutely necessary to government. 

Mr. Delap informs me that there are several more 
cargoes belonging to the congress, in the hands of mer- 
chants in Spain, the proceeds of which cannot be obtain- 
ed. I have written to Mr. Morris, at Nantz, begging 
the favour of him to send me a proper account of them, 
that I may complain of those merchants at the court of 
Spain. There is a ship at Nantz totally deserted by 
her crew, which has been lying there jmany months un- 
regarded, at an expense to the congress of 100 dolls, 
per month. I have advised Mr. Sweihauser, to consult 
with Mr. Morris about selling her, which ought to have 
been done as soon as her crew quitted her. 

The ship too, which was intrusted to Mr. Myrkle, is 
lying here at a considerable chajge, and no appearance 
of her return. 

I enclose you Capt. Cleveland's account of Mr. 'Myr- 
kle's conduct, which he wishes may be offered in his 
justification. I have referred him to Dr. Franklin for ad- 

I have the honor of being your obedient servant, 

Arthur Lee. 
To the Honorable Committee of Correspondence^ Philadelphia.^^ 

A few days after, on his arrival at Victoria, in Spain, 
Mr. Lee wrote to the commissioners at Paris, as follows. 

« Victoria, February 26th, 1777. 

To the Honourable Commissioners, Franklin and Deane, 

at Paris. 

Dear Sirs,— I am thus far safe on my journey, which 
by the spur of six pistoles more, I am to finish two days 
sooner than was at first agreed. Therefore, if no acci- 
dent happens, I shall ' reach my destination the 6th of 
next month. In the committee's letter of the 23d Oc- 
tober to me, it is said, * we are to negotiate with other 
nations agreeable to certain plans and instructions trans- 
mitted to Mr. Deane.' I have none with me, nor ^o I 
remember to have seen any but those which relate ex- 


pressly to France, and that plan has already been transmit- 
ted where I am going.* Nothing is more likely than my 
being asked what I have to propose particularly relative 
to this meridian. This question was put to us on our 

first visit to 1- But the same answer 

will not serve here. I must entreat you therefore to fa- 
vour me with your ideas upon this particular. What 
alteration would you think proper in that plan, when 
applied to this country ? It is best to be prepared for 
every favourable moment that may offer. This must 
plead my pardon for urging as speedy an answer as pos- 
sible. It would grieve me to be put to the alternative 
of letting a favourable opportunity pass unembraced, or 
of hazarding a measure of so much moment to the pub- 
liC) upon my weak judgment, and very limited inform- 

With my best wishes for your health and success, and 
begging to be remembered kindly to our friends, I have 
the honour to be with the greatest esteem, dear sirs, your 
obedient servant, Arthur Lee." 

To this letter Mr. Lee received the foUowmg very in- 
teresting reply from Dr. Franklin.]; 

« Pabst, March 21st, 1777. 

Dear Sir, — We have received your favours from Vic- 
toria and Burgoss. 

The congress sitting at Baltimore despatched a packet 
to us the 9th January, containing an account of the suc- 
cess at Trenton and subsequent events to that date, as 
far as they had come to knowledge. The vessel was 
obliged to run up a little river in Virginia to avoid some 
men of war, and was detained there 17 d&ys, or we 
should have had these advices sooner. We learn how- 
ever through England, where they have news from New- 
York to the 4th February, that in Lord Gornwallis' re- 

* Madrid. 

t The Coant d* Aranda, the Spanish ambanador. Names are avoided for 
liBar of tome one's peeping into the letter. < 

t This letter is in the MS. hand-writing of Pr. IVanklui. 

78 LIFB OF" 

treat to New Brunswick two regiments of his rear guard 
were cut to pieces ; that General Washington having got 
round him to Newark and Elizabethtown, he had retired 
to Amboy in his way to New- York ; that General Howe 
had called in the garrisons of Fort Lee and Fort Consti- 
tution, which were now possessed by our people ; that 
on the New- York side, Forts Washington and Independ- 
ence were retaken by our troops, and that the British 
forces at Rhode Island were recalled for the defence of 

' The committee in their letters mention the intention of 
congress to send ministers to* the courts of Vienna, Tusca- 
ny^ Holland, and Prussia. They also send us .a fresh 
commission, containitig your name instead of Mr. Jeffer- 
son's, with this additional clause, ^^and also to enter in- 
to and agree upon a treaty with his most Christian ma- 
jesty, or such person or persons as shall be by him au- 
thorized for that purpose, for assistance in carrying on 
the present war between Great Britain and these United 
States." The same clause is in a particular commission 
they have sent me to treat with the court of Spain, similar 
to our common commission to the court of France ; and I am 
accordingly directed to go to Spain ; but as I know that 
choice was made merely on the supposition of my being 
a little known there to the great personage for whom you 
have my letter, (a circumstance of little importance) and 
I am really unable through age to bear the fatigue and 
inconveniences of such a journey, I must excuse myself 
to congress, and join with Mr. Deane in requesting you 
to proceed in the business on the former footing till you 
can receive a particular commission from congress, which 
will no doubt be sent as soon as the circumstances are 
known. ^ 

We know of no plans or instructions to Mr. Deane 
but those you have with you. By the packet indeed we 
have some fresh instructions which relate to your mission, 
viz : — that in case France and Spain will enter into the 
war, the United States will assist the former in the con- 
quest of the British sugar islands, and the latter in the 
conquest of Portugal, promising the assistance of six 


frigates manoed, of not less than 24 guns leach, and pro- 
visions equal to 2,000,000 dollars ; America desiring on-* 
]y for her share, what Bri]tain holds on the continent ; 
but you shall by the £rst safe opportunity have the in- 
structions at length. I believe we must send a courier. 

If we can we are ordered to borrow £2,000,000 on 
interest Judge then what a piece of service you will 
do if you can obtain a considerable subsidy, er even a 
loan without interest. 

We are also ordered to build six ships of war. It is a 
pleasure to find the thiogs ordered which we were doing 
without orders. 

We are also to acquaint the several courts with the 
determination of America to maintain at all events our 
independence. You will see by the date 6f the resolu- 
tion relating to Portugal as well as by the above that the 
congress were stout in the midst of their difficulties. It 
would be well to sound the court of Spain on the sub- 
ject of permitting our armed ships to bring prizes into 
her ports, and there dispose of them. If it can be done 
openly, id what manner we can be accommodated with the 
use of their ports, or under what restrictions ? This govern- 
ment has of late been a little nice on that head ; and the 
orders to L'Orient have occasioned Captain Weeks some 

We have good advice of our friend at Amsterdam, that 
in the height of British pride on their summer success, 
and just before they heard of any check, the ambassador, 
Sir Joseph York, had been ordered to send a haughty me- 
morial to the states, importing that notwithstanding their 
promises to restrain their subjects from supplying the rebels, 
it was notorious that those supplies were openly furnished 
by Hollanders at St. Eustatia; and that the governor of that 
island had returnedyrom his fort the salute of a rebel ship 
of war with an equal number of guns ; that his majesty 
justly and highly resented these proceedings,and demanded 
that the states should by moresevere provisions restrain that 
commerce; that they should declare their disapprobation of 
the insolent behaviour of their governor, and punish him 
by an immediate recall ; otherwise his majesty, who knows 


what appertains to the dignity of his crown, would take 
proper measures to vindicate it ; and he required an imme- 
diate answer. The states coolly returned the memorial 
with only this answer, that when the respect due to sove- 
reigns was not preserved in a memorial, it ought not to be 
expected in an answer. But the city df Amsterdam took 
fire at the insolence of it, and instructed their deputies 
in the states to demand satisfaction by the British court's 
disavowal of the memorial, and the reprimand of the am- 
bassador. The states immediately demanded a number 
of men-of-war ships to be in readiness. Perhaps since 
the bad news has come, England may be civil enough to 
make up this little difference. 

Mr. Deane is still here. You desire our advice about 
your stopping at Burgoss. We are of opinion that you 
should comply with the request. While we are asking 
aid, it is necessary to gratify the desires and in some 
sort comply with the humours of those we apply to. Our 
business now is to carry our point. But I have never 
yet changed the opinion 1 gave in congress, that a vir- 
gin state should preserve the virgin character, and not go 
about suitering for alliances, but wait with decent digni- 
ty for the applications of others. I was overruled ; per- 
haps for. the best. 

With the greatest esteem I am ever dear sir your most 
obedient humble servant, 

Benjamin Franklin. 

Arthur Leej Esq?^ 

The court of London having heard of the appointment 
^f a deputy to the court of Spain, lost no time in endea- 
vouring to deter that court from receiving him, or in any 
manner countenancing the United States. Spain, as 
well as France, had suffered severely in the last war with 
England, while her power was wielded and her councils 

Fjided by the splendid and energetic genius of the elder 
itt. She was therefore not only cautious but even timid 
in her course towards the United States. The English 
ambassador had remonstrated against the reception of 
Mr. Lee at Madrid as commissioner from the United 


States while he remained at Burgoss. The Spanish 
court, somewhat awed by this remonstrance, desired Mr. 
Lee not to proceed farther, and signified that it would 
be preferred he should return to Paris. It did not how- 
ever suspend communications with him ; but the Spanish 
minister at Paris was instructed to continue on the most 
friendly footing with the American commissioners. The 
following note was addressed to the Spanish minister at 
Madrid, in reply to the communications making known 
to Mr. Lee the remonstrance of the British court, and 
the desire of his catholic majesty that he should not 
proceed to Madrid. 

<< Buaaoss, March 5th, 1777. 

Upon maturely weighing what his excellency the 
Duke de Grimaldi had the goodness to communicate 
from his majesty, Mr. Lee feels himself obliged (notwith- 
standing his earnest wish to coincide with his majesty's 
views, and conciliate his amity towards the United 
States) to beg his attention to the following consider- 

1st. Were it the question now, whether Mr. Lee 
being at Paris should come to Madrid, he might do it 
or not without any material consequence ; but it being 
known that he was deputed upon that business and on 
his way, his return without going to Madrid will beget 
an opinion that S^ain has renounced the states of Ame- 
rica, in refusing to receive their deputy. For the fact of 
his return being notorious, and the reasons for it necessa- 
rily secret, it will make the same impression as if no 
such reasons existed. 

This opinion would very materially injure the credit of 
the United States in France and Holland ; and it might 
have a very unfavourable effect in America, for it must 
be considered that the fact will reach America by a 
thousand channels, while the reasons for it can pass 
through one only, and that too from the nature of things 
in obscure hints. 

Mr. Lee therefore, hopes his majesty will weigh these 
reasons before he finally determines upon a pleasure 


which may be deemed ungracious to the congress and 
be highly detrimental to their interests. 

2d. Mr. Lee cannot conceive upon what pretence of 
reason, right, or law, the English ambassador, or his 
court can take exception to his majesty's receiving a de- 
puty from the United States, since the right of a neutral 
court to do so is clearly established by the unquestioned 
practice of all times, and recognized by the best writers 
on the laws of nations. Neither the English ambassador 
at Paris nor his court, have taken any exception to it 

3d. That it will be so far from preventing the execu- 
tion of any gracious intentions his majesty may have of 
assisting the states, that the best and safest channel of 
conveying that aid is one from which Mr. Lee's being at 
Madrid will rather divert, than direct the attention of 
England. Next to an immediate declaration, a supply 
of money, to support the credit of the states and pay 
for what is necessary, \s the most effectual aid. The 
support of this contest calls upon congress for very con- 
siderable funds. The means of supporting them by the 
export of their produce are slow and uncertain. This 
obliges them to have recourse for assistance to the pow- 
ers that are friendly to their cause, among whom they 
have the greatest reliance upon his majesty of Spain. 
This purpose will be answered by his majesty's ordering 
his ambassador at the Hague to authorize Sir George 
Grand of Amsterdam to pay the sum destined to this 
use, to the order of Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and 
Arthur Lee. Sir G. Grand is fixed upon as one who has 
been already trusted by the court of France in this busi- 
ness, and on whose attachmefit we can depend. 

Mr. Lee must beg leave to await his majesty's pleasure 
at Burgoss or Victoria, not at Bayonne, because he is 
persuaded upon reflection that he should incur the high- 
est displeasure of his constituents, if he were to leave 
Spain without a definite answer to the objects of his 
mission. Arthur Lee, 

Commissioner Plenipotentiary from the 
Congress of the U. S. of America. 



Mr. Lee was finally permitted to proceed to Madrid. 
The author has the original passports from the king of 
France and from the Spanish minister, Count d'Aranda, 
\vith the autographic signatures of Louis the 16th, arid 
his minister Vergennes, and of the Count d'Aranda^ 
They will be found among the MSS. of Mr. Lee, which 
are deposited, as the reader has been informed, in the 
library of the university of Cambridge. 

While Mr. Lee remained at Burgoss corresponding 
with the Spanish minister on the subject of his proceed- 
ing to Madrid, he addressed to his court a memoir, repre»- 
senting *^ the present state of the dispute between Ame^ 
rica and Great Britain.". It was written to give force 
to his arguments for the propriety and policy on the part 
of Spain, of receiving a commissioner from the United 
States, and entering into a diplomatic intercourse with 
them. It is a striking specimen of the diplomatic skin 
and ability of Mr. Lee. It was composed by him in the 
Spanish language. The author has the original MS. in 
that language, with the translation by Mr. Lee whidi is 
here used. 

** To his Excellency the Duke de Grimaldi. 

The present state of the dispute between America and , 
Great Britain does not seem to be so fully understood as 
to render a clear representation of it unnecessary. 

America has declared herself independent : and has 
defeated all the efforts of Great Britain to reduce her 
during two campaigns. In this resistance she has stood 
hitherto alone and unassisted. Her infant and unprepar- 
ed situation has been compensated by her ardour, her in* 
dignation, and her enthusiasm. 

Great Britain however is determined to redouble her 
efforts to make this campaign decisive of the fate of 
America. In this situation America (^rs that com-' 
merce and friendship, which she has withdrawn from 
Great Britain, to France and Spain. This offer ought 
to be deemed of double vahie, because it will take from 
their hated rival and insolent foe, what it gives to them. 
It is therefore taken for granted that this is an object of 

VOL. I. 11 

8S t.iF£ or 

the first magnitude, and worthy of the highest attention 
of both these courts. 

It is also taken for granted, that .Spain and France 
do not wish Great Britain should prevail in this contest ; 
or regain America by conquest or conciliation* There 
remains therefore but this single question, whether it be 
more politic for the two powers to accept the proflFercd al- 
liance and declare immediately ; or await the event of 
the next campaign. 

To judge of this it will be necessary to consider what 
may be the probable event of the next campaign. As 
Xjrreat Britain has resolved to put forth her utmost 
strength, it is probable that the event will be either the 
total destruction of America, or an accommodation found- 
-ed upon a mutual conviction of each other's strength. 
And this accommodation must be hastened by America 
being left destitute of any material assistance . from 

It is matiifest that the neutrality of France and Spain 
leaves the field open to the operation of the British force, 
and to the production of one of those events, either of 
which must be highly prejudicial to both nations, and 
advantageous to their enemy. 

If Great Britain should be victorious, America will be- 
come a powerful instrument in her hands to be wielded 
at her will against these countries ; and that it will not 
remain long unemployed no one will doubt who knows 
that the court of Great Britain is well informed of the 
countenance at least given to what they call a most dan- 
gerous rebellion, and that the head of that court is of a 
temper that never forgives nor forgets. 

If an accommodation should produce a reunion the 
same advantages will be lost ; and almost the same con- 
sequences are to be feared. The end of the campaign 
cannot, therefore, promise so favourable a moment for 
the interposition of France and Spain as the present ; and 
in all human conjecture it will then be fruitless. 

In truth what moment can be wished more favourable 
than the present, when Great Britain is so equally match- 
ed by what were her colonieSf that the scales hang doubt- 


fal ; nor can it be questioned that the interposition of 
France or Spain, and much more of both, would make 
that of America decidedly preponderate and separate her 
from Great Britain forever. And what object can be of 
more importance than to deprive her of this great and 
growing source of her conimeiQe, her wealth, her marine, 
and her dominion. 

There is nothing the court of Great Britain is^ore 
persuaded of, than that the loss of America would be 
the inevitable consequence of the war in £urope ; nor 
is there a man in the nation,, who is ignorant of it. 
Hence it is that the king finds himself obliged in all his 
speeches to assure his parliament of the tranquillity of 
Europe, that they may be emboldened to support his war 
against America. Hence too it is that they have labour- 
ed so much to prevent a rupture between Spain and Portu- 
gal, and have at length renounced the latter. It is there- 
fore most certain that Great Britain would endure any 
insult short of an open and outrageous act of hostility, 
rather than engage in an European war during her con- 
test with America. 

During. the last war America contributed 12,000 sea- 
men and 20,000 troops to the assistance of Great Britain. 
These are now tripled against her. The commerce of 
America, according to the declaration of Mr. Pitt who 
conducted the last war, carried Great Britain triumph- 
antly through it. The full tide of that commerce is 
now turned against her. From America all the expedi- 
tions against the^islands of. Spain and France were then 
supplied. Now those supplies are all ready to assist in 
seizing her islands. Deprived of all those aids which 
ministered to her success and her triumphs during the 
last war, what could prevent her now from experiencing 
the bitter reverse of her former fortune. What policy 
can withhold two sovereigns whose prosperity is incom- 
patible with her power, to forego such an opportunity of 
bumbling her as may never return. 

If Great Britain should be again united to America by 
conquest or conciliation, it would be in vain to menace 
her with war. America has been felt like Hercules in 

84 Lira OF 

liis cradle. Great Britain knit again to such growing 
strength would reign the irresistible though hated arbiter 
of Europe. This then is the moment in which France 
and Spain may clip her wings, and pinion her forever. 
One of the most respectable bodies in England told their 
sovereign some two years since with a kind of prophetic 
spirit, ''that his ministers were precipitating his dominions 
intoji^ situation in which their existence would depend 
upon the forbearance of their enemies." This situation is 
now certainly ensured; the rest as certainly .remains in 
the arbitration of France and Spain. 

Arthur Leb, 

Commissioner Plenipotentiary from tho 
CoDgress of the U. S. of America. 
Surgoss^ March 6/A, 1777." 

The only instructions given by congress to Mr. Lee 
were those contained in general terms in his commission. 
He drew up the plan of a treaty to be presented to the 
Spanish court. The original draught of this plan is in 
the possession of the author. They forcibly illustrate 
the accomplishments of Mr. Lee as a statesman and di- 
plomatist. In No. 3 of the Appendix many of his pa- 
pers on Spanish affairs will be found. The reader will 
read among them with interest a letter of Mr. Lee to 
Count Florida Blanca, then the prime minister of the Spa- 
nish court, giving him an account of the " late proceed- 
ings of the British in the southern parts of the United 
States, with suggestions of the interest which Spain had 
in them," There will be found a friendly reply from the 
Spanish minister. 

Mr. Lee was at length permitted to proceed, as it has 
been mentioned, to Madrid. He there exerted all the ef- 
forts which skill and ingenuity could suggest to induce the 
Spanish court to engage in our cause. The views of its 
policy however led that court to pursue a course of great 
caution and secrecy. The commissioner was assured of 
the good will of the king and nation, and partial and am- 
biguous promises were made of joining France in giving 
the United States aids of money and arms* He was per- 



mitted to make contracts for warKke stores with Span! A 
merchaQts. The reader will find in No. 4 (6) of the Ap- 
pendix, throughout the '^selections" which have been 
made from a journal of Mr. Lee kept by him while he 
remained in France, a frequent recurrence to the relations 
and transactions between the United States and Spain.* 
Many of his letters to his friend;^ and to the correspond- 
ing committee of congress, the last of which will be 
found in the Appendix, relate to our affairs with 
Spain from the year 1777 until Mr. Lee's return to 

The residence of Mr. Lee at Madrid, though it result- 
ed in no open or definite assistance, was not however un- 
attended with essential service to the United States. He 
gave the ministry and public men of Spain accurate in- 
.formation of the character, condition and prospects of the 
American people, which produced respect and cordiality 
for them. He brought back to Paris evidences of this re- 
sult, and procured such instructions from the court of 
Spain to its minister at Paris, as kept up a close and inti- 
mate intercourse between him and Mr. Lee, and finally 
enabled him to succeed in obtaining a large loan from the 
Spanish government. In the spring of 1777 Mr. Lee 
returned t6 Paris and resumed his labours as one of the 
commission to France, his powers in which had not been 
superseded by his commission to Spain. 

During the early part of the year 1777 the French court 
resbted all the efforts of the American commissioners to 
obtain from it any open or avowed assistance ; or to do 
any public act which could be construed by Great Britain 
into an act of recognition of the independence of the 
United States, or of a national alliance with them. Hence 
it was that the commissioners had thought it well to divide 
their labours, and make similar efforts to enlist other pow- 
ers in our behalf. On Mr. Lee's return from Spain they 
tnrned their attention to Prussia, with whose minister 
they had already corresponded. In the spring of 1 777 Mr. 
William Lee, who was then acting as agent of congress 

* Vario«ev]oiitaiidiiit«ngliaypqp«nwiHbe finma in No. 4 (e) App. in rela- 
tiMi to Franoh tfiin^ which covld not be sTttemiticnllj ombodied in Uw memoir. 

86 LIFE or 

in Holland, was appointed commissioner to the court of 
Berlin. As our commercial and financial concerns with 
Holland were of great importance and magnitude, Mr* 
Lee consulted the commissioners at Paris on the propri- 
ety of his remaining in Holland, and proposed that one 
of them should repair to Berlin in his stead. Upon con- 
sideration it was determined that» the interests of the 


United States required Mr. William Lee to remain in 
Holland, while it was equally apparent that they required 
some immediate correspondence with Prussia. Without 
waiting to consult congress (for at this time many months 
elapsed before they could receive answers to their com- 
munications from America) and relying on it^ acquies-^ 
cence, it was resolved that Arthur Lee should repair to 
Berlin in the room of his brother, and carry with him the 
commission and instructions intended for him.*^ 

There were three leading objects to be gained at pre- 
sent, by the mission of Mr. Lee to Berlin; the estab- 
lishbQent of commercial intercourse betw^een Prussia and 
the American states ; the prevention of any assistance 
from Prussia to Great Britain, in procuring German aux- 
iliaries, and the passage of such as she might obtain from 
the petty princes of Germany, through the dominions of 
Prussia ; and permission to purchase warlike stores from 
Prussian subjects. 

According to the wishes and instructions of Messrs. 
Franklin and Deane, Mr. Lee left Paris about the 1st 
June 1777, for Berlin. Shortly after his arrival at this 
capital, he wrote the following interesting letter to Ge- 
neral Washington. 

^ Beblin, June 15, 1777. 

To his excellency General Washington* 

Dear Sir, — It has been with uncommon satisfaction 
that I have seen you in a situation in which I long hoped 
you would be, if we were forced to dispute the great 
question, which in my own opinion 1 was satisfied would 
happen. I never forgot your declaration when I had the 

* See Secret Jovimls, p. 46. 



pleasure of being at your house in 1768, " that you were 
ready to take your musket on your shoulder whenever your 
country called upon you?'* I heard that declaration with 
great satisfaction ; I remember it with the same, and 
have seen it verified to your immortal honour and the 
eminent advantage of the illustrious cause in which you 
are contending. 

I have the pleasure of assuring you that your conduct 
ag^st general Howe has been highly approved by mili- 
tary men here and in France. That approbation has 
been increased in those to whom I have had an opportu- 
-nity of stating the great inferiority of the troops you 
commanded to those of the enemy, in number and in 
every provision for war. 

The Prussian army, which amounts to 228,000, are 
disciplined by force of hourly exercise, and move with a 
rapidity and order which are certain to succeed against 
any troops in Europe. When the king reviews an army 
of 40,000 men, npt a man or horse, the former in full 
march, theiatter in full gallop, is discernibly out of line. 
The regiments are in the field every day, where, besides 
the, general exercise, every man is filed off singly and 
passes in review before different officers, who beat .his 
limbs into the position they think proper, so that the man 
appears to be purely a machine in the hands of a work- 
' man. The improvements of utility which I have been 
able to note, are these, viz. ; the ramrods are of double 
thickness all the way, and enlarged as ours are at one 
end. The advantage is to ram down the charge so that 
they do not turn the rod, but raising it to the muzzle 
they plunge the lower end into the barrel, and then rais- 
ing it up return it straight, without the necessity of turn- 
ing it as formerly. This saves a great deal of awkward 
motion and of time. The mouths of the loops are very 
large, so that there is much more readiness in hitting 
them than formerly ; which also expedites the important 
business of charging. The musket to compensate for 
this piece of weight is two inches shorter in the bar- 
rel. When the men present, instead of levelling their 
firelocks,they are taught to slant them down, so that a 

88 I.IFS OF 

point blank shot would apparently strike the ground at 
-about ten yards distance. This depression is found ne- 
cessary to counteract the elevatiou which the act of fir- 
ing inevitably gives the niusket ; and even when a ball 
strikes the ground it generally rises and may do execu- 
tion, but if directed too high it is lost entirely. These 
are alterations which seem to me of, great utility, and I 
wish they may appear so to you. 

It is my intention to write a history of this civil *oon- 
^ention. The share you have had in it will form an in- 
teresting and important part. It will be in your power 
to preserve a variety of material papers and anecdotes 
for such a work. May I venture to hope that you will 
think me so far worthy of your confidence as to preserve 
them for me ? Dubious parts of. history can be cleared 
only by such documents ; and we shall want every au- 
thentic record to vouch against the forgeries 'which will 
be offered to the world. 

The resources of our enemy are almost annihilated in 
Germany, and their last resort is to the Roman Catholics 
of Ireland. They have already experienced their readi- 
ness to go, every man of a regiment raised there last 
year having obliged them to ship him off* tied ; and cer- 
tainly they will desert more than any other troops what- 
ever. They themselves rely on the present campaign. 
They have no probability of reinstating their army, ex- 
cept with Roman Catholics of Ireland ; should this cam- 
paign materially diminish it, I have a plan for rendering 
that of little effect, which I hope will succeed. Should 
you keep your ground, the question of acknowledging 
your independence will become very serious next winter 
with the European powers. But until the events of this 
summer are decided their conduct will remain the same, 
and no open acts of interference will take place. 

I am, dear sir, your's, with great respect, &c. 

Arthur Lee.^ 



Diffiodties in the waj of negotiations with the Pmasiftn Oomi — ^Note to the 
Prime Miiiiater the celebrated Scbolenbarg — ^Memoire of Mr. Lee to the king of 
Prussia — ^Robbery of bis papers at Berlin — Autographic note of Frederick the Great 
to Mr. Lee — He permits him to hold free though secret conferences with his Mi- 
nister — Negotiations with the Prussian Court — Correspondence of Schulenbnrg— 
The results of Mr. Lee^s mission to Prussia — His return to Paris — His correspond- 
ence wjth Vergennes respecting supplies of arms, &e. for Virginia — His letter hj 
order of his colleagues to Lord North respecting the treatment of American prison- 
en — ^His letter to the Earl of Sbelburne on this snbjeict — His spirited Memorial t9 
the Prime Minister of Spain on the subject of the Proclamation of the British 
Commissionera in the United States, threatening a war of extermination — ^Mo- 
moriai of the American commissioners to the French Court is sent hj Mr. Lee 
with a diplomatic note to the Spanish Minister at Paris — ^The object of Mr. Lee 
in this — LetteiB of Mr. Lee on the subject of the capture of Burgoyne — Letter to 
the Marquis of Rosignan— Anecdote of Dr, Yonng and Voltabre— Letter to Sir 
'William Joneo. 

Th£ part which Mr« Lee had to act at this period was 
delicate and difficult. To engage even the attention of 
the court of Berlin would require no ordinary weight of 
character, dignity of manners, skill and propriety of con- 
duct. If the difficulty of access in •any official or public 
character was great, the reader will readily apprehend 
the greater difficulty of removing the obstacles, which 
the times, the relations thenexisting between Great Britain 
and Prussia, the remoteness of the United States and the 
yet doubtful issue of their contest with the former, pre- 
sented to every proposition of national association on the 
part of the latter power with the United States. 

Prussia was at this time not only a neutral between 
Great Britain and the United States, but was bound by 
the superadded obligations of treaties with England. Al- 
though Frederick the great was an able and provident 
statesman, he might not readily, perceive how the inte- 
rests of his kingdom would be promoted by commercial 
intercourse with a country so remote from it, and whose 
resources and prospects were so little known and appre- 

VOL. !• . 12 


elated in Europe. His sympathies it could not rationally 
be expected would be easily excited towards the repub- 
licans of America, for he had never shown any partiality 
for free and republican institutions. Mr. Lee's task here 
then was indeed a difficult and a delicate one. No ordi- 
nary prudence, ability and skill were requisite, to gain 
the attention, enlist the feelings, and attract the interests 
of his Prussian majesty. 

As soon as he arrived at Berlin he asked the honour of 
a conference with the prime minister, the celebrated Baron 
Schulenburg. He was peri^fiitted to reside at Berlin in 
a private character, and to hold a secret correspondence 
with the Prussian court. He received the following as- 
surance of the good will of the king, and of an early at- 
tention to the propositions. Mr. Lee had laid before the 

" Berlin, June 9th, 1777. 

I have received sir, the letter which you did me the 
honour to write to me yesterday, and I think I perceive 
from its conclusion that on account of the difference of 
languages you have mistaken the sense of one or other of 
the expressions I m^de use of in our last conversation. 
I do not hesitate therefore to assure you sir, as I did in 
my letter addressed to you in Paris, that your stay at 
Berlin will not be at*all disagreeable to the king, provided 
you live as a private person, and do not assume a public 

As to the directions which you have given me concern- 
ing commerce, you will be so good as to add a note, where 
ensurance can be made for vessels destined for America, 
and the premiums given. I will then examine your pro- 
positions, and shall inform you shortly whether or not 
we think ourselves in a condition to make a trial of this 

I have the honour to be, with very distinguished con- 
sideration, your very humble and obedient servant, 

Le Baron Schui-enbuag.* 

To Arthur 2/ee, Esq. at Berlin.'!^ 

* All tbe notet and correspondence of Scfaalenbmv are written in French, with the 
aitognphic tigiiatazei of the Baron. Mr. Lee baa \m trtDslAtiMia of all of them. 


Under the discouraging circumstances, and the many ob- 
staclesat tending the mission of Mr. Lee to the court of Ber- 
lin', which have been briefly sketched, and which were all 
more fuJly known and more deeply felt by him than they can 
be now known or felt by the reader, the friendless and 
lonely citizen and unacknowledged commissioner of his 
bleeding and struggling country, commenced his negotia- 
tions with a great and renowned monarch, and a recent 
and favourite ally of its powerful enemy. Mr. Lee open- 
ed his mission by presenting the following "memoire^'' 
in which he fashions with admirable ability and adroitfio^rs, 
its facts, arguments and conclusions, to the ends he was 
seeking to obtain. Baron Schulcnburg had stated the 
obstacles to any measure on the part of Prussia in behalf 
of the United States. These Mr. Lee endeavours to re- 
move. The intelligent reader cannot peruse without a 
deep interest this memoire, which sheds a lustre on the 
character of Mr. Lee. 



"Berliw, July 29, 1777. 

Sire, — The singular wisdom with which your majesty 
has made your kingdom so flourishing, the wise steps 
which have carried the prosperity of your dominions to a 
degree truly astonishing, will nevertheless not prevent me 
from saying to your majesty, that means may yet be 
found for augmenting the number and afl3uence of your 

No maxim is more true, than that the number of their 
subjects forms the riches of kings. Both ancient and 
modern history proves without exception, that commerce 
is the mother of population. There is no necessity for 
bringing proo& of this to the view of one of the wisest 
kings that has ever existed. Such is the fact, and the 
reason is evident. There is therefore every reason to con- 
clude that the king who wishes to increase the number of 
his subjects to the greatest possible extent, ought to es- 
tablish and encourage the commerce of his kingdom. 


The dominions of your majesty are admirably situated 
for commerce. The three great rivers that intersect them 
ought to furnish the greatest facilities for it. What then 
is wanting? Only an object sufficiently distant to make 
seamen ; and sufficiently extensive to commence and 
keep up commercial intercourse. Such is America ; and 
the unexpected events which have rendered the com- 
merce of that country free, invite to the use of it- The 
monopoly of this commerce, which according to the 
opinion of that great and wise man Mr. Pitt, has sustain- 
ed the power of England, no longer exists, and without 
a miracle will never again exist. Those nations who 
will exert themselves to attach to them a young and grate- 
ful people by aiding them to resist their oppressors, must 
profit by it. But those who look tranquilly on, waiting 
to see the issue of this war, must not hope to change the 
course which commerce shall before have taken from 
habit and gratitude. So that this is the moment to be 
seized on by those who may wish to participate in the 
i^ommerce of America hereafter. 

But obstacles present themselves ; for in the first place 
you have not ships of war sufficient to sustain the honour 
of your flag. But, sire, you have the finest regiments in 
the world ; and Great Britain, deprived as she at pre- 
sent is of wise counsellors, is not yet «o mad as to 
run the risk of obliging your majesty to join those formi- 
dable regiments to the force of her rivals. Besides, 
fluch is the present weakness of England, so much is she 
exhausted and pressed by the war with America, that 
she is obliged to shut her eyes to transactions much 
stronger, and which pass immediately before them. 

2dly. It is impracticable to have at the same time 
as numerous an army as that of your majesty, and a 
respectable fleet ; because too many men would be re- 
quired for them both, and the country would be ruined. 

This objection would be a solid one if population was 
blessed by commerce. But the fact is otherwise. In- 
stead of diminishing it augments it. Thus it is found 
that the most commercial countries are most populous. 
Population is always in proportion to the means of liv- 
ing. Commerce, by increasing these means, of course 


increases popolation. Instead then of lessening the 
means of keeping up a large army, commerce affords the 
surest means of doiog it. 

3d. But sailors are wanting for such an enterprise. 

It is the enterprise itself that will make sailors. A 
handful of experienced seamen are enough to encour- 
age others ; and the thing once put in motion will pro« 
gress by itself. If the ports of your majesty were opened 
10 our armed vessels, so that they might freely enter 
them, deliver their cargoes, refit, and secretly sell their 
prizes, then instruction and encouragement would be giv- 
en to your seamen ; and if above all some of them were 
|)ermitt6d to make a voyage in our vessels, in a very little 
time seamen would be furnished from your own subjects, 
and would draw to your ports many of other countries, 
with a view of cruising in the American seas. 
. But it may be said this would be giving too much 
into the business at once, and tantamount to deciding 
upon the question of American Independence. 

Not more so than is now warranted by the fact. Not 
more so than the laws of nations grounded upon the 
fairest principles of state necessity require. The fact is, 
we have the sword in our hands, and that we carry on 
the war openly. Can there be a more convincing proof 
of independency ? We are in possession of the country, 
the articles of our commerce are the produce of our 
labours, and are our own. In law and in fact, we have 
the sole right of disposing of them. Is it right then 
that other nations should wait and suffer the greatest 
privations, whilst England is doing all in her power to 
cut our throats, and take possession of our property to 
sell it to them ? Or can they not at once go and buy 
those things they want, and which the English cannot 
supply them with, without violating their neutral char^ 
acter. It is not difficult to say which is most reasonable 
and of course most conformable to the law of nations. 
Neutral nations in carrying on this commerce decide 
upon the fact and not the law. This very distinction is 
made by the law of England ; as it is permitted to an 
Englishman to obey the powers that be, although they 



are not of right. Besides the English ^recognised the 
Duke of Braganza as king of Portugal, and received his 
ambassadors in 1641, upon the ground that he had been 
called to the crown by the unanimous consent of the peo- 
ple. The congress have the same foundation. The as- 
semblies of the states choose them annually, and these 
assemblies are chosen by the whole people. How is it 
possible to have a consent more unanimous or more mu- 
tually given. Your majesty will permit me here to offer 
some authorities upon this subject. 

Charles Duke of Sudermania, having procured himself 
to be crowned king of Sweden in the commencement of 
the sixteenth century, sent James Vandyck into France 
to renew the treaties and alliances formerly made between 
the two crowns. Vandyck made it appear that the ad- 
vantages which France would derive from the commerce 
of Sweden would be so consideraWe, that the king listen- 
ed favourably to the propositions of this minister, and had 
a desire of treating with him. There was nothing in the 
way except the conduct of Charles, who had Usurped the 
crown of Sigismond his nephew, after his nephew had 
been elected king of Poland ; and had become odious on 
account of his making religion the pretended cause of the, 
revolution. It was also considered in France that the 
king of Denmark, who was not a friend of Charles, 
might form a party against him, with the king of Eng- 
land, his brother in law. But notwithstanding all this, 
M. de Villeroy in writing to Jeannin, (8th April 160H) 
cut the matter short and said, ^< all these reasonings and 
considerations will not prevent the king from treating 
with Charles, if he finds his own interest and that of his 
kingdom benefited by it. (Wechfort, 126.) The ex- 
ample of Henry the great is worthy of a prince who no 
less merits the title. 

Vattel in examining the same question says, " Foreign 
powers in this case follow the possession, if their own in- 
terests correspond with it. There is no rule more cer- 
tain, more conformable to the laws of nations, and the in- 
dependence of nations. Because foreigners have no right 
to concern themselves with the domestic concerns of a 


.people ; they are not obliged to examine and to go to the 
bottom of their conduct, about their own affairs, in order 
to weigh their justice or injustice; they may if they 
please suppose that the right is joined to the possession." 

The advantages which your majesty's dominions will 
derive from the commerce of America, must be very 
great. It will give a new vent, always increasing with 
the rapidly increasing population of America ; for your 
cloths, your linens, your porcelains, and all sorts of manu* 
factures in iron ; the returns for which will be in tobaccoi 
indigo, flax seed, cotton and furs. 

It is true that these advantages will be greatly dimin- 
ished by the ravages of the British and their mercenaries. 
If we are compelled to carry on the war singly, against 
all their force, and with the greatest difficulty of obtain- 
ing arms and munitions of war from Europe. It is for 
your majesty, with some other powers of Europe, to 
arrest those ravages by a commercial alliance with our 
United States. 

There is no name so much respected amongst us as 
that of your majesty. Of course there is not a king 
whose declared frieodship would give so much courage 
to our people and strength to our cause. 

I have trusted to the goodness of your majesty to par- 
don me this long detail, and of thoughts so little worthy 
your attention, and so weakly perhaps expressed^ in a 
language which I have but lately attended to. But I 
would rather express myself thus than to communicate 
to any other person that which I have had the honour of 
presenting to your majesty. 

1 have the honour to be, sire, with the greatest respect, 
your very humble and very obedient servant, 

Arthur Lee.* 

Hi$ Majesty the King of PruasiaP 

A few days after the arrival of Mr. Lee at Berlin, the 
door of his room was opened by means of a faUe key, 
and all his' public papers were taken from it. He had 

* The foregoing Hemoire was written in French, from which it hw been here 


reason to believe that they had been taken by the ser- 
vant of the English envoy at the court of Berlin, who 
resided at the same hotel with Mr. Lee. He complain- 
ed of the robbery to the minister of statq^ and addressed 
a note to the king on the subject. The king ordered an 
examination into the aftair to be made by the officers of 
the police.* The enquiry had the desired effect ; and 
his papers were returned in the same secret manner in 
which they had been taken. This dishonourable act was 
traced with considerable certainty to the agency of the 
English envoy, who, at the request of Frederick, was 
recalled by his court. To Mr. Lee's note to the king, 
he wrote the subjoined note in reply. The author has 
the original note of Frederick, written in the French 
language, in his own hand-writing and with his autogra- 
phic signature. He assures Mr. Lee that profound si- 
lence and secrecy should be observed respecting his con- 
ferences with the Prussian court. 

" Le Roi ayant re5u la lettre du Sr. Lee, de Berlin, 
le 1 de Juillet, et sa plainte du vol, qui lui a ete fait, 
veut bien lui faire savoir en response, que Sa Majeste 
vient d'ordonner a son ftiinistre d'etat, Baron Schulen- 
bourg, d'entendre ce qu'il auroit a lui dire ulterieurement 
la dessus ; que pour cet effet le Sr. Lee pourra s'ouvrir 
sans reserve envers le susdit ministre, surtout ce qu'il 
trouvera a propos de faire savoir a sa Majeste, qui I'as- 
siire par la prcsente d'un secret inviolable, et du profond 
silence, qui sera observe sur les ouvertures, qu'il jugera 
convenable de lui faire par cette vaye. 

A' Potsdam ce 2. de Juillet 1777. 

Au Sr. Lie^ a Berlin.^^ 

* The report of the whole proceeding before the court of police, in French and 
Genu an, is among Mr. Lee's MSS. 

t Translation. " The king having received the letter of Mr. Lee from Berlin, 
the Ist July, and his complaint of the robbery that had been conunitted upon him» 
bleales to Jet him know in answer, that his majesty has ordered his minister of state, 
baron Schulenburg, to hear what he has finally to say upon that subject ; and for 
that porpose Mr. Lee may, without reserve, open himself to that minister upon 
XboM pMbtt especially that he would wish to maka kAOWA to hia majesty, who as- 


Mr. Lee did qot succeed during his visit to Berlin, in 
obtaining from the Prussian court a recognition of his 
official character from the United States. The relations 
existing between Prussia and Great Britain induced the 
king to defer the acknowledgment of their independence. 
The difficulties which weighed with that court in regard 
to any dijrect aid or countenance on its part towards 
them, are thus stated by Baron Schulenburg in this let- 
ter to Mr. Leej addressed to him before he left Berlin. 

" Berlin, June 26, 1777. 

After having testified to you sif in my letter of the 
1 8th, our desire of establishing an immediate commerce 
wjith the colonies of North An^erica, provided we could 
siirmount the difficulties thajt opposed themselves, it re- 
mains only that I answer your letter concerning the free 
access of your privateers into our ports, which you men- 
tion in your's of the 20th. I can assure you sir, that 
the king is very ready to oblige your constituents, but 
on the other hand you must be sensible that his majesty 
cannot, in the present circumstances of things, affront 
the court of London. 

Besides, our ports as yet have only received merchant 
ve3se]s, and no vessels of war or privateers have entered 
them, so that the officers established in our seaports 
would be embarrassed how to conduct themselves on 
sMch an occasion ; the customs observed on such occa- 
sions being unknown to them. You must therefore in- 
form us how France and Spain act, the formalities they 
observe toward your cruisers, and how they reconcile the 
bee entry of these into their ports with their friendship 
with Great Britain. 

The result of the information you give on these sub- 
jects will determine if, and upon what conditions, we can 
grant the permission desired, and I shall take pleasure 
sir, in commujolcating to you the decisions of his majes- 
ty in due time. 

sores him by the present of an inviolable secrecy, and that piofoimd silence shall be 
obMryed with regard to those things that he shall commonicata in this maooer. 
Pot§dam, JiUy 2d, 1777. Fujedbbick." 

VOL. I. 13 


I have the honour to be, with great consideration, sir, 
your very humble and obedient servant, 

Baron de Schulenburg.* 
To Arthur Lee, Esq. at jBerKn." 

The impression made upon the mind of Frederick and 
his congenial minister by the abilities of Mr. Lee, was 
highly favourable and honourable to his country and its 
cause. He succeeded in obtaining from Frederick an 
assurance that he would afford no facilities to Great 
Britain, in procuring additional German auxiliaries, and 
that he would prohibit the passage through any part of 
his dominions of any troops which that court should 
hereafter engage in Germany, He obtained also per- 
mission for the citizens of the United States to carry on 
a direct commerce with the subjects of Prussia ; and for 
himself to purchase for the use of the United States, 
arms at the armories from which the king supplied his 


Mr. Lee left Berlin with an understanding that a cor- 
respondence should be kept up between Schulenburg and 
himself, on the affairs of the United States. He was de- 
sired to keep the king constantly informed of the events 
of the war with Great Britain ; and was assured that 
Prussia " would not be the last power to acknowledge the 
independency^^ of his country. A letter addressed by the 
able and friendly Schulenburg to Mr. Lee, after the re- 
turn of the latter to Paris, will be read with interest. 

"Berlin, Dec. 18, 1777. 

Sir, — A few days after the departure of my last, of the 
i3th inst. in which I requested you to give me authentic 
intelligence concerning the progress of General Howe, 
of which the English ambassador had received an ac- 

* The author finds the rollowing note of Schulenburg among the MSS. of Mr. 
Lee. '' Baron Schulenburg, minister orstate* junt setting off for the country, wiBhes 
that Mr. Lee would come to his house at 10 o^clock in the morning, aa he baa 
something to say to Mr. Lee from the king. Berlin, July 8, 1777." 

All the letters between Schulenbuig and Mr. Lee are in the French language, of 
which Mr. Lee has left translations. His translations are osed. 

t Frederick had hia araui mannfactared at private annories, for tbe encoorage- 
ment of his nbjeets. 


count ; I learned by the letter jou did me the honour to 
write me of the 4th of this month, that these advantages 
far from being so considerable as they were thought to 
be, are more than balanced by the surrender of General 
Burgoyne, and by the liberty which the troops under 
Arnold will have of acting where they shall be most 
wanting, which may very much harass General Howe. 

I am much pleased sir, with these favourable events, 
and as from the situation in which affairs were when 
your despatches were sent, other events of consequence 
are to be expected before the end of the campaign, or 
even during the winter, 1 hope you will continue to com- 
municate sir, without delay, all the authentic advices you 
may receive. 

The king, who always graciously receives the news 
you send me, and expresses his satisfaction when it is in 
your favour, has seen the passage of your brother's letter, ^ 
and I can assure you sir, that his majesty will not be the last 
power to acknowledge your independency ; but you must 
feel yourself that it is not natural that he should be the 
firstj and that France whose commercial and political in- 
terests are more immediately connected with yours, should 
set the example. 

I have the honour to be with distinguished consider- 
ation sir, your very humble servant. 

Baron de Schclenburg." 

In the summer of the year 1778, Mr. Lee renewed ne- 
gotiations with the court of Berlin, on the subject of^a 
recognition on its part of the independence of the United 
States. He received assurances of the continued good- 
will of the king towards the United States, and of ^is 
readiness to second France in acknowledging their sove- 
reignty and independence. Mr. Lee made full use of 
the invitation of the Prussian court, to furnish it with 
intelligence of the events of the war. The correspond- 
ence between Baron Schulenburg and Mr. Lee, together 
with the letters of the latter to the commissioners at 
Paris, and to the committee of correspondence of con- 
gress, on the subject of his negotiations with the court 

100 LIFE OF 

of Prussia, will be found in the Appendix, No 5. These 
papers will richly repay a perusal of them* The teadef 
will perceive the respect in which the American states 
were held by the king and his gredt minister, and at' the 
same time the caution with which they approach thedi. 
He will perceive too, the difficulties which attend the 
struggles of any people against the oppression of long es- 
tablished governments. These delays on the part of for- 
eign powers tended to dispirit, but they could not dismay 
the people of the United States, who under the guidance of 
the firm patriots of the " old congress", and of the unyield- 
ing fortitude and genius of Washington, seemed the more 
to rely on themselves the more they were left to do so. 

On Mr. Lee's return to Paris, he found the negoti- 
ations with the court of France in the same state in which 
he left them. The same caution which marked the con- 
duct of that court in the early part of the year 1777, still 
characterized it. In this state of things, Mr. Lee renew- 
ed a correspondence -with the French court thait he had 
commenced as early as June in the year 1776, at the re- 
quest of the assembly of Virginia, with a view to obtain 
for that commonwealth a supply oif cannon and other mili- 
tary stores. He succeeded in obtaining the desired num- 
ber of cannon, and a considerable quantity of other sup- 
plies. At the time of his application, the state of Virginia 
had no funds in France, nor could it be stated with any cer-' 
tainty when they could be put into Mr. Lee's hands, to 
pay for these supplies. Tobacco was the only article, upon 
the pledge of which the United States or any of them could 
obtain loans of any sort in Europe, and the danger of 
the capture of their vessels by the enemy's cruisers, ren- 
dered the voyage to Europe dangerous and uncertain. 
But such was the influence of Mr. Lee with the Count 
Vergennes, that he obtained the supplies in advance, on 
his personal assurance that they should be paid for. The 
first note of that minister to Mr. Lee on the subject of 
supplies for his native state, is here given. 

" VfiiiSAiLLii, June 9th, 1776. 

I received sir, the letter you did me the honour to 
write me the 3d of this month, and in which you state 


the wants of tlie state of Virginia, in cannon^ mortars, 
&c. Prince Montbarey, to whom I communicated it) 
bas just sent me a statement of what can be furnished to 
you, which accompanies this* You may therefore sir, 
converse with this minister, both upon the manner of 
sending and of paying for these supplies. 

I have the honour to be, with perfect esteem sir, your 
very humble servant, De Vergennes.'^* 

In the year 1778, the French government enquired of 
Mr. Lee, when it might expect the money for the sup- 
plies furnished to the state of Virginia, which that state 
had not been able to pay. Mr. Lee made an earnest and 
eloquent apology for the delay of payment for them, and 
accompanied it with a forcible representation of the con- 
dition of Virginia, in the war of devastation carried on 
upon her territory by the powerful and common enemy. 
The French court with great kindness assured him that 
it would wait with cheerfulness the ability of that state 
to discharge the debt. This service of Mr. Lee to his 
native state was a highly opportune and important one. 
He continued to transact business for it with the French 
court with great assiduity and to its entire satisfaction, 
during his residence in France. The correspondence 
between Mr. Lee and the French ministers, Vergennes, 
Montbarey and Neckar, and his letters to the governors 
of Virginia, Page and Henry, on the subject of * Vir- 
ginia supplies,' will be found in No. 4 (c) of the Appendix. 
In the latter part of the year 1777, Mr. Lee was inform- 
ed by a secret correspondent, that American prisoners in 
England were treated with cruelty and neglect. He im- 
mediately brought the subject before his colleagues ; and 
earnestly corresponded with his friends in England, urg- 
ing and authorizing them on his responsibility and credit, 
to supply his suffering countrymen with the comforts 
they needed. Upon consultation it was resolved by the 
commissioners that a letter should be addressed by them 
to Lord North, expostulating with the British govern- 
ment, in the name of humanity and of their country, 

* M the letten and notes of Yeigeimes are signed wkh bis own hand. 

102 LIFE OF 

against its treatment of the American prisoners. Mr. 
Lee was appointed to draught the letter. He at the 
same time addressed one to Lord Shelburne, on the same 
subject. They are vigorous and eloquent productions. 
They are here presented to the reader. 

« Passt, Dec. 12tb, 1777. 

To the Right Honourable Lord North, First Lord of 
the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Prime 
Minister of the King of Great Britain, &c., &c., &c. 

My Lord, — From motives of duty and an earnest de- 
sire of mitigating the calamities of war, we proposed 
near a year since, to the King of Great Britain's ambas- 
sador here, an exchange of prisoners in Europe. The 
answer we received must have been made known to your 
Lordship, and the world will judge of its decency. It 
would have been honourable for that noble lord, arid 
happy for thousands who have since suffered unnecessari- 
ly, if he had considered that moderation is a mark of wis- 
dom, and humanity an ornament to the highest station.* 
These are the sentiments at least, which have governed 
the congress and people of the United States. They 
have wished that this war, into which they entered with 
reluctance, might be distinguished by the humanity with 
which it was conducted ; and that compassion might heal 
the wounds that were inflicted. The records of con- 
gress, my lord, are filled with proofs of tender care and 
attention, not only to the wants, but to the comforts 
and accommodation of their prisoners. 

We have wished in vain to find such instances in the 
acts of the British government, for unhappily ail we have 
seep on this subject, is the public declaration of the gov- 
ernor and general who was chosen to commence this . 
war, that the American officer and soldier should be 
treated with equal indignity, and all devoted without 
distinction to the most ignominious fate, in terms too low 
for us to repeat. We have never heard of this proceed- 
ing having been censured, by the government from which 
he derived his authority. Neither has the invitation to 
the Indian savages, at a public treaty, to drink the blood 


and feast upon the bodies of those whom you called your 
subjects, been ever disavowed. 

It is an universal complaint that the practices of those 
in authority under you have been conformable to the 
principles of those public acts. Col. Parker, a gentle- 
man of rank, was thrown into a common jail in Boston 
covered over with wounds, where he perished unpitied 
for want of the common comforts which his situation 
and humanity required. Col. Ethan Allen was dragged 
in chains from Canada to England, from England to Ire- 
land, and from Ireland to Carolina, and from thence to 
New-York ; at a time when the officers taken from you 
in the same expedition were treated not only with leni- 
ty, but with every possible indulgence. The barbarous 
treatment of Mr. Lovell in Boston has no parallel. Of 
the prisoners made in Fort Washington, two-thirds of 
them perished by the unexampled cruelty and rigours of 
their captivity. Even in England the severities which 
the American prisoners suffer, are, according to the testi- 
mony of every one we have seen, of the most grievous 
kind. Stripes have been inflicted on some to make them 
commit the deepest of all crimes, that of fighting against 
the liberties of their country. And numbers are now 
groaning in bondage in Africa and India, to which they 
are compelled by menaces of an immediate and ignomini- 
ous death ; as contrary to every rule of war among civil- 
ized nations, as to every dictate of humanity. 

It is with the greatest regret we mention these cruel- 
ties. For the honour of humanity we hope they will 
not be committed again. Your lordship must know that 
it is in the power of those we have the honour to repre- 
sent, to make ample retaliation upon the numerous pris- 
oners of all ranks in their possession ; and we warn and 
beseech you not to render it their indispensable duty. 
Upwards of five hundred British seamen have been gen- 
erously treated, set at liberty by our cruisers in those 
seas, and sent at the public expense to their country. 
We trust you will think yourselves bound to dismiss an 
equal number of seamen, taken in the service of the 
United States. 

104 UPS OF 

We also desire that a persoil appointed by its may 
have permission to furnish the citizens of the United 
States who are in your prisons, with the necessaries 
they may want from time to time ; and that a general 
cartel may be immediately settled, by which the unfor- 
tunate on both sides may be relieved as soon as possible 
from the miseries of imprisonment. 

We must beg a speedy answer, that we may transmit 
without delay the determination of your court to our con- 

We have the honour to be, with the highest respect, 
my lord, your lordship's obedient servants, 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Silas Deane, 
Arthur Lee,* 

Commissioners Plenipotentiary from the 

ludepeudent and United States of America." 


<< Paris, December 14, 1777. 

To the Right Hon'ble the Earl of Shelburne. 

My Lord, — I have the honour of enclosing to you a 
copy of a letter, transmitted at the same time to the first 
lord of the treasury. The honour of the nation, and the 
rights of humanity, are too much interested in the object 
of it, not to receive your lordship's advocation. 

The enclosed papers contain the principal transactions 
between the northern armies. The burning of defence- 
less towns, and of every thing before him, as General 
Clinton has done, will probably draw upon him and his 

^ Tbe author feels it to be jnst to add here the answer from the Britisb govem- 
meoL It is as follows, and is taken from the letter book of Mr. Lee, from which 
his letter to Lord North is copied. 

"His majesty ^s servants do not approve of the appointment of inspectors. They 
nndeiBtand the establishment of the prisoners to be what has been nsaal and proper 
in snch cases. If there has been any neglect they have given strict orders to have it 
rectified ; and they will be always ready to redress any complaints that abail be 
made. The prisonecs shall be permitted to receive, under proper regnlations, any 
charitable donations in their favour. Besides, this government is dispraed and have 
it in their intentions as opportunities shall ofier, to exchange them in Ameriicafaaaumt 
British prisoners there. If any complaints are made through the hands of Mr. Hart- 
ley, or through any other proper chaimel> they will be taken into coniidecation 
accoxdiog to the case, and redreased." 


goverament the rengeance which such enounities de- 
serve, in spite of all the , ^dTorts of congress to prevent 
any hasty retaliation. The S. Carolina Gazette mentions 
the arrival of an American captain who had been taken 
hy Capt. Jarvis, and who mentions with the highest praise 
the generous and humane treatment he received from that 
officer. We have had from other prisoners accoiints equal* 
\y to his honour, which I am sure will give your lord- 
ship pleasure. Capt. Jarvis may be assured that such 
conduct will command from us the praise and esteem 
which are always due to a generous enemy* 

The necessity which has made us enemies for a time, 
and separated us forever from the same government, has 
not altered the esteem I felt for the good and wise in 
England. Among those I hope your lordship and your 
friends will accept an assurance of my respect and friend- 
ship. I condole most sincerely with the family at Comb- 
wood for the misfortune at New- York. 

I have the honour to be with the greatest respect and 
esteem your lordship's humble servant and friend, 

Arthur Lee." 

Subsequently to the dates of these letters, the British 
commanders in America published by order of their gov- 
ernment, a proclamation denouncing vengeance and deso- 
lation upon the inhabitants of the United States and their 
territories. They proclaimed the determination to waste, 
and ravage, and sack every thing before them. They 
actually commenced this barbarous warfare, contrary alike 
to humanity and civilized usage. The mild and unre- 
vengeful spirit of congress met with no correspondent 
sentiment from their enemies. That illustrious body felt 
its responsibility to glory and to honour, in the opinion of 
mankind ; but it felt its duty to its country. Congress 
determined, though late and reluctant, to meet and punish 
its desolating foe with a dreadful retaliation, and take life 
for life. A manifesto was published threatening retalia- 
tory measures, and justifying to the world this solemn r.e- 
sort The commissioners, contemporaneously with the 
manifesto of congress and before they received a copy 

VOL. I. 14 

t06 LIFE OI* 

of it, presented a memorial to the French court on the 
subject. It was drawn by IVlll Lee, and will be found in 
Appendix No. 4. (rf) 

As soon as copies of the proclamation of the British 
commanders, and of the manifesto of congress, reached 
Paris, Mr. Lee laid them before the Spanish minister, and 
accompanied them with a letter to Count Florida Bianca 
the prime minister of the court of Madrid. 

" To his excellency the Count Florida Bianca. 

I have the honour of enclosing to your excellency a 
true copy of a proclamation and manifesto lately issued 
in America by the British commissioners. The plan of 
desolation and cruelty announced in it has been approved 
in parliament by one of his Britannic majesty's principal 
secretaries of state, the Earl of Suffolk; and a majority 
in both houses of parliament have given their sanction to 
the manifesto itself by refusing to disclaim it. Upon 
these grounds it may justly be considered the act of the 

The intentions of Great Britain, derogatory at once of 
all the sacred rights of humanity, and of the honour of 
God, and of the established laws of civilized nations, are 
thus declared in the manifesto. "The policy as well as 
the benevolence of Great Britain have thus far checked 
the extremes of wary when they tended to distress a peo- 
ple still considered as our fellow-subjects, and to desolate 
a country shortly to become again a source of mutual ad- 
vantage. But when that country professes the unnatu- 
ral design, not only of estranging herself from us, but of 
mortgaging herself and her resources to our enemy, the 
whole contest is changed, and the question is how far 
Great Britain may by every means in her power destroy 
or render useless a connexion contrived for her ruin, and 
for the aggrandizement of France. Under such circum- 
stances the laws of self-preservation must direct the con- 
duct of Great Britain ; and if the British colonies are to 
become an accession to France, will direct her to ren- 
der that acquisition of as little avail as possible to her 


The pretext here alleged for carrjihg war to all ex- 
tremities which the laws of humanitj and of nations 
forbid, and of desolating merely for the purpose of deso- 
lation, is, that the country is to be monopolized by France. 
That this is merely a pretext is manifest from the treaty 
itself on which they ground it, in which it is declared that 
the United States are at liberty to make the same treaty 
with all nations. 

Your excellency knows too, how unjust this imputation 
is in our most secret transactions. By one of those 
strange absurdities into which men blinded by bad pas- 
sions are often betrayed, they denounce this desolation 
against the people at large, who they in the same breath 
assert have not ratified the treaty. Thus, if we are to 
credit their own assertions, the ground of their rage is 
pretended, and the objects of it innocent. 

It is therefore most clear that the threatened cruelties 
are not out of policy, but out of revenge. And as no- 
thing is more odious than this spirit, nothing more dan- 
gerous to all that is deemed dear and sacred among men, 
than an open avowal of such a principle, and an exercise 
of the barbarities which it suggests, such a conduct 
ought to arm all nations against a people whose proceed- 
ings thus proclaim them to be ^^hostis humani generis. ^^ 

It is not that they can add to the cruelties they have 
already exercised ; desolation and massacre have mark- 
ed their steps wherever they could approach. The send- 
ing of those captives whom they pretend now to be their fel- 
low-subjects, into perpetual slavery into Africa and India; 
the crowding of their captives into dungeons where thou- 
sands perish by disease and famine; the compelling of 
others, by chains and stripes, to fight against their coun- 
try and their relations ; the burning of defenceless towns ; 
and the exciting of the savages by presents and bribes, 
to massacre defenceless frontier families without distinc- 
tion of age or sex, are extremities of cruelty already 
practised, and which they cannot exceed. But the re- 
covery of what they called their rights, and the reduction 
of those who had renounced as they alleged a just su- 
premacy, was then avowedly the object of the war. These 


cruelties were, it was pretended, incidental severities, and 
necessary to the attainment of a just object. But now 
destruction alone is the object. It is not profit to them'* 
selves but injuries to others which they are pursuing. De- 
solation for the pleasure of destroying is their only pur- 
pose. They will sacrifice to disappointed vengeance 
what their injustice lost, and their power cannot regain. 

There cannot be a greater violation of those laws which 
bind civilized nations together, which are the general 
property, and which distinguish their wars from those of 
savages and barbarians, than this manifesto. All civilized 
nations are called upon, as well by their own interests as 
those of humanity to vindicate its violated laws. Your 
fexcellency will therefore permit me to hope that so dar- 
ing and dangerous a proceedure will call fortji a declar- 
ation from the king of Spain, whose preeminent charac- 
ter among princes for piety, wisdom and honour, will ren- 
der him a fit avenger of the common cause of mankind. 
It is not America only that is wronged by this savage 
proclamation, but the feelings of humanity, the dictates' 
of religion, the laWs of God, and of nations. 

Your excellency will also give me leave to request, 
that this representation may be laid before his majesty, 
and enforced with such arguments as your excellency's 
greater knowledge and the favour you have had the 
goodness to manifest for our just cause may suggest. 

I have the honour to be your excellency's very humble 

Arthur Lee, 

Commissioner Plcnipotcnttaiy from the Congress 
of the U. S. of N. America to the court of Spain. 

Paris, Dec. 17, 1778." 

Mr. Lee accompanied this letter to the Spanish minis- 
ter with a copy of the manifesto of congress in reply to 
the British proclamation, and thus concisely but forcibly 
states the justification of the United States for their re« 
sort to retaliatory extremities. 


ARTHUR LEB. ' 109 

« Paris, Dec. 27, 1778. 

To his excellency the Count Florida Blanca. 

I have the honour of enclosing to your excellency a 
manifesto from congress, in answer to that of his Britan-* 
nic majesty's commissioners. You have also enclosed a 
copy of a former resolution of congress on this subject, 
from tvhich it will appear how earnestly they have shun- 
ned this shocking extremity. As long as it was possible 
to impute the barbarities committed to the unauthorized 
intemperance of individuals, congress exhorted the suf- 
fering people to lenity and forbearance. But when they 
became acts of authority, avowed and ordered, congress 
must not only stand justified before God and n\an, but 
would have been culpable in the eyes of both, had they 
longer withheld the order for retaliation. Permit me to 
hope that your excellency will represent these things to 
his majesty, and that they will produce an immediate 
declaration which is most likely to arrest the sanguinary 
progress of our enemy, and compel them to relinquish 
the devastation of our country for the defence of their 

I have the honour to be, &c. 

Arthur Lee." 

These papers were delivered to the Spanish Ambassador 

at Paris, with this note. 

" Chaillot le 18 Dec. 1778. 

Monsieur Lee a Phonneur de presenter ses respects, al 
son excellence M. le Cointe D'Aranda, et de le prier de 
vouloir bien faire expedier au plutot le Pacquet ci-jointe 
a son excellence le Comte Florida Blanca. 

A' son excellence Vambassadeur de VEspagne.^^ 

In order to despatch at once, a subject disagreeable 
because it records the guilt of a nation which we have 
90 many reasons to admire, but proper to be introduced 
into this memoire because the papers relating to it re- 
flect honour upon Mr. Lee, the strict chronology of the 

110 • LIFE OF 

political history of his life has been in some degree vio- 
lated. In the first letter to Count Florida Blanca, Mr. 
Lee refers to the treaty then existing ^between France 
and the United States. The highly important and inte- 
resting part which he acted in negotiating the treaty of 
alliance with France will now be related. 

On the 9th December 1777, Mr. Lee as commissioner 
to the court of Spain, addressed ihe following note to the 
Spanish ambassador at Paris, enclosing him a copy of a 
memorial which the commissioners had just presented to 
the Count Vergennes on the present state of affairs be- 
tween the United States and France. The court of 
Spain being alluded to in this memorial, it was an ap- 
propriate paper tp be presented to the minister of that 
court. The presenting of it to him was an ingenious 
mode of recalling the attention of the Spanish court to 
the representations heretofore made by Mr. Lee, on the 
policy of Spain joining France in a treaty of alliance and 
commerce with the United States. The memorial to the 
French court is an interesting paper. It was drawn by 
Mr. Lee. 

(Note of Mr. Lee to Count D'Aranda.) 

« Dec. 9, 1777. 

To the Count D'Aranda. 

I have the honour of enclosing to your excellency a 
copy of a memorial presented to his excellency Count 
Vergennes, by the commissioners of congress for this 
court. The knowledge I have of the great veneration 
entertained by the United States for the king of Spain 
and affection for the people, enables me to assure your 
excellency that nothing will give them greater joy than 
the happy conclusion of a firm and lasting treaty of amity 
and commerce between the two nations. 

Permit me therefore to hope that your excellency will 
co-operate with the favourable disposition of this court, 
in bringing the treaty formerly proposed to a speedy con- 

I have the honour to be, with the highest considera- 
tion and respect, &c. Arthur L££.'' 


(Memorial to Count Vergennes.) 

" To his excellency the Count de Vergennes, 

The commissioners from the congress of the United 
States of North America, beg leave to represent to jour 
excellency that it is near a year since they had the ho- 
nour of putting into your hands the propositions of con- 
gress for a treaty of amity and commerce with this king- 
dom, to which, with sundry other memorials, requesting 
the aid of ships of war and offering engagements to unite 
the forces of the said states ivith those of France and 
Spain, in acting against the dominions of Great Britain, 
and to make no peace but in conjunction with those 
courts, if Great Britain should declare war against them ; 
to all which they have received no determinate answer ; 
and apprehending that a continuance of this state of un- 
certainty with regard to those propositions, together with 
the reports that must soon be spread in America, of ri- 
gorous treatment met with in the ports of these king- 
doms, may give advantage to our enemy in making ill 
impressions on the minds of our people, who, from the 
secrecy enjoined us, cannot be informed of the friendly 
and essential aids that have been sb generously, but pri- 
vately afforded us ; the commissioners conceive that the 
present circumstances considered, that tfie completing 
of such a treaty at this time must have the most happy 
effect, in raising the credit of the United States abroad, 
and strengthening their resolution at home, as well as 
discouraging and diminishing their internal enemies, and 
confirming their friends who might otherwise waver. 
And the commissioners are further of opinion that the 
aid of ships desired, might at this juncture be employed 
with great advantage to America, which when honoured 
with a conference they can more particularly explain. 
They therefore request your excellency most earnestly 
to resume the consideration of those affair^, and appoint 
them some speedy day of audience thereupon. 

They pray also that their grateful acknowledgments 
may be presented to the king for the additional aid of 


thfee millions, which he has been graciouslj pleased to 
promise them ; and that his majesty may be assured 
whatever engagements they may enter into in behalf of 
the United States, in pursuance of the full powers they 
are vested with, will be executed with the most punctual 
good faith by the congress, who, believing their interest 
to be the same, and that a sure increase of the com- 
merce, wealth and strength of France and Spain will be 
one consequence of their success in this contest, wish for 
nothing so much, after establishing their own liberty, as 
a firm and everlasting union with those nations. 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Signed, Silas Deane, 

Arthur Lee. 
Passy^ Dec. 8tt, 1777. 

The author would treat with contempt that philosophy 
which will not discern in the course of events the guid- 
ance of an infinitely wise God. No one who is capable 
of estimating the present condition of the United States, 
and of elevating his mind to the grandeur of their pros- 
pects ; who can comprehend the multiplied and glorious 
enjoyments and advantages of civil and religious free- 
dom, and of the arts and sciences, accessible to the mil- 
lions who now and will hereafter inhabit the vast regions 
of their territ0ry, will deny that the success of the Unit- 
ed States in their conflict with Great Britain, was an 
event worthy the design and regard of the Great Ruler 
of all the earth. Let the American reader then, grate- 
fully adore Him, who at this period of the utmost need 
of his country, when nations the most friendly were yet 
afraid to ally themselves with her, gave to her arms a 
signal and decisive victory. The surrender of Burgoyne 
ensured the final triumph of the United States. To this 
event, so unexpected a short time before it happened, 
and so easily to have been avoided by the captured gen- 
eral, may be attributed the commencement of a course 
of Providence towards the people of the United States, 
which if they duly regard Him who ordered it, may 
render them for ages the light, the example, and glory of 
the world. 


This event has been termed decisive. It was so. It 
revived the spirits of the people of the states, gave them 
confidence in themselves aud in their commanders, and 
as the reader will see, decided the timid and reluctant 
hesitancy of France and Spain. 

A few days after the presenting of the above memorial 
to the Count Vergennes, intelligence of the surrender of 
Burgoyne reached the commissioners. They immediate- 
ly laid it before the French court, and Mr, Lee acquaint- 
ed the Spanish ambassador with the grateful information 
of that event. He wrote to Baron Schulenburg, and to 
all his correspondents in Holland, and announced to them 
a victory gained by the unassisted troops of his country 
over British veterans. 

This intelligence had the happiest effect on the minds of 
the people of Europe, and on the policy of their govern- 
ments! This was soon evident, in the felicitations of the 
ministers of France and Spain, presented in animated 
language to the commissioners. The courts of those 
nations began to feel the force of the previous represent- 
ations of the American commissioners, that America had 
spirit and determination to carry on the war, and had 
rational prospects of success. While these courts felt 
this they began, especially the court of France, to appre- 
hend that if America was left to carry on by herself a 
protracted war, which she should bring to a happy issue, 
they would lose the advantage of the good will and grati- 
tude that aid immediately aflTorded would produce in the 
minds of the people of the United States, and which 
would lead, not only to a lasting amity, but advantageous 
terms of future commercial intercourse. They began 
too to perceive the strong probability that the entire 
separation of the United States from Great Britain 
might be effected, and their independence secured. The 
greater the certainty of these events became, the stronger 
were the inducements to France to incur the expense and 
hazard the contingencies of a war with England. 

The impression made on the minds of the ministers of 
France and Spain, may be seen from a perusal of some 
pages of Mr. I^ee's journal at this period of time. 

VOL. I. 15 


114 LIFE or 

The following most interesting and eloquent letters 
written by Mr. Lee, on the subject of this happy intelli- 
gence, evince the most ardent and devoted patriotism. 

« Paris, Dec. 17th, 1777. 

Sir, — The news of Burgoyne's surrender, and Wash- 
ington's having given battle to Howe, which reached 
Europe the beginning of this month, has produced the 
most decided opinion of the success and stability of our 
cause. You will soon see the most open eflfects of it ; 
and I may, I think, assure you that our enemies will have 
more than America, to employ them another campaign. 

Before this time you should have received very con- 
siderable supplies by the Flammant ; and very ample ones 
will come by this opportunity. Those and the multitude 
of private adventures will furnish you fully, and will re- 
duce the present exorbitant price of the necessaries of 
life with you. 

With great respect and esteem, I am, dear sir, your 
friend, Arthur Lee. 

To James Lovellj Esq, Member from Massachusetts^ 

"Paris, Dec. 18ih, 1777. 

Dear Friend, — The authentic accounts which reached 
most parts of Europe about the same time, the beginning 
of this month, of Burgoyne's surrender, and Washing- 
ton's attacking Howe's army, has given a sensation that 
is likely to produce the most speedy and decisive effects. 
I think you may be certain the United States will not 
make another campaign without allies, nor our enemies 
be unattacked in Europe. But by my advice this ought 
not to relax your preparations ; because, though a gen- 
eral war will put us upon a more respectable footing and 
give more opening and certainty to our efforts ; yet it 
will call forth more earnest and united exertion from 
Great Britain, which will arm the hands of its govern- 
ment more strongly, and this augmented force, both from 
policy and hatred will be principally pointed at us. It 
must be remembered how much more energy and activity 

ARTHUR LE£. 116 

there are in the English than in these nations, which 
when roused and united will not fail to be formidablei 
and therefore calls upon us not to think the danger over 
because we have repelled the force which a divided and 
ill-directed people have brought against us. 

J think it probable that the lords Chatham and Shel- 
burne will soon be ministers; and if they cannot ally Great 
Britain with us, they will use every eflfort to regain by force 
what the others have lost by folly. Perhaps the vigour 
of your preparations will prevent them from attempting it. 

I am, my dear friend, jours truly, 

Arthur Le£. 

To Samuel Adams^ Esq?^ 

" To the Committee of Correspondence. 

Gentlemen, — Our joint despatches will inform you of 
the forwardness in which things are here towards the de- 
sired conclusion. 

In three weeks we shall hear from Spain, and all will 
I hope be settled. The late intelligence from America 
has staggered and confounded our enemies, as much as it 
has elated and decided our friends. Should they at length 
resolve to continue in rage and despair what they com- 
menced in wickedness and folly, and venture upon a gene- 
ral war by which they must be overwhelmed, their prin- 
cipal efforts will be pointed against us, unless your being 
in a respectable state of preparation should deter them. 
In that case they will probably confine themselves to a 
piratical coasting war, and preying upon our commerce. 
I have directed all the naval stores that are collected at 
Bilboa to be shipped forthwith the moment the court of 
Spain agrees to furnish the money. To accelerate this 
material supply, I proposed to my colleagues to remit the 
money from our funds here; but they did not think it ad- 

I have the honour to be very respectfully gentlemen, 
jour humble servant, Arthur Lee* 

Paris^Dec. 19IA, 1777." 

116 UF£ OF 

The day after Mr. Lee's letter to that able and sterling 
patriot Samuel Adams, he wrote another in the following 
animated terms to the same gentleman, announcing to him 
an assurance from France which he had just received, 
that that court would enter into a treaty with the United 

« Pakis, Dec. 19th, 1777. 

Dear Friend, — ^The last ray of British splendour is 
passing away, and the American sun is emerging in 
full glory from the clouds which obscured it. His most 
Christian majesty has assured us^ in the most explicit iermSj 
that he will enter into a treaty with us as soon as the cou^^ 
rier returns from Spain ; and will maintain our inde- 
pendence by arms if necessary. The only stipulation 
he requires, is that we shall not renouncie our inde- 
pendency when we make peace ; a condition to which I 
believe we have no insuperable objection or reluctance. 
I have no reason to doubt the good faith of this assurance ; 
and the solid wisdom of it is manifest. They say their 
object is to attach us to them, as long as human ties can 
endure ; and certainly the principles on which they mean 
to act are wisely calculated for this purpose. I doubt 
you will not drop a single tear on the grave of Great 
iBritain. That perverse and fallen people seem now sen- 
sible of the shame and ruin that await them; but I ques- 
tion whether they have spirit to avenge themselves upon 
the tyrant, who is the author of all their calamities. 

Farewell, &c. 

Arthur Lee. 

To Samuel Adonis^ Esq.^^ 

In the same animated manner he concludes a letter to 
Baron Schulenburg, in which he had given him all the in- 
telligence he had received from the United States. " Our 
enemies are exerting their utmost endeavours to renew 
their attempts against us. They are a people of energy 
and spirit, and worthy of the opposition of those who 
claim an equal birthright. Unassisted by foreign powers 
we cannot prevent them from desolating our country ; 


but we will repel the chains they mean to impose on us^ 

and establish our independence forever." 

». .* 

With characteristic energy and patriotic feeling he thus 
congratulates General Gates, the victor of Saratoga. 

<< Paris, Jan. 5th, 177a 

Major General Gates, 

Dear Sir, — Give me leave to renew our old acquaint- 
ance, and to congratulate you on the important services 
you have rendered to the cause of liberty. Your com- 
plete and effectual victory came very happily to relieve 
us here from very painful embarrassments with the pow- 
ers of Europe, into which the boasts and preparations of 
our enemies, with the doubts of our consistency and abili- 
ty to resist them, had involved us. Your successes, with 
the battle given at Germantown have entirely removed 
those doubts, and will soon place us amongst the ac- 
knowledged sovereign powers of the world. 

It gives me very particular pleasure that you have been 
so instrumental in this great event, as 1 have so long 
known you to have the most disinterested attachment to 
the cause of liberty and of America. 

I have the honour to be dear sir, with the greatest es- 
teem, &c. your friend and servant, 

Arthur Lee.'^ 

To diversify the grave topics on which the reader has 
been dwelling with the reliefs afforded by the recollec- 
tions of private friendships, and the occasional devotions 
of the statesman and scholar to literature and learning, 
the author ventures to interrupt the progress of politics, 
and to close this chapter with one or two letters from 
Mr. Lee to his literary friends, William Jones, Esq. (af- 
terwards Sir William Jones) and the Marquis of Rosig- 
nan ; the latter of whom, like Mr. Lee, united the learn- 
ing of science to the talents and services of a politician, 
as the ^former joined the elegant accomplishments of lite- 
rature to the more abstruse acquirements of a lawyer 
and advocate. Between these gentlemen a long, pleas- 

118 LIFE OF 

ingy and instructing correspondence was carried on. The 
reader will find it in the 10th No. of the Appendix. 

"Paris, Dec. 22d, 1777. 


' Dear Sir, — I enclose you a performance of Dr. Frank- 
lin, which 1 think will please you. 

Our last intelligence from America was of the 4th of 
August. By that we are informed that General Burgoyne 
had met with a considerable cheek, with the loss of seve- 
ral men and of his batteaux. The evacuation of Ticoiide- 
roga and the progress of the British troops gave no alarm, 
as it was conceived that they were only hastening to in- 
volve themselves in a country 4n which they would be 
cut off. The ravages of the British troops, and Howe's 
order to the inhabitants to bring in their money and take 
his notes for it on the treasury, had united and confirmed 
all men more firmly in favour of American independence. 
The ministry at London begin to think that this campaign 
will not answer their purpose; and 1 trust in God that 
the event will prove them to be once in their lives right 
in their judgment on American matters. 

An Abbe here has contrived a telescope for measuring 
the distance of objects, which seems to be ingenious and 
effectual. I do not remember to have seen in your study 
the electroferus perpetuus, which is a very simple and 
admirable machine for the ordinary exhibitions in electri- 
city. As it was invented in Germany I suppose you have 
seen it ; otherwise 1 would send you a description of it, 
by which you might easily make one yourself. Mons. 
Le Sage a very able chemist here, exhibits very satisfac- 
torily the experiment of corroding glass by the fumes 
produced from the addition of vitriolic acid to spar, for 
which that of Derbyshire is the best.* What these fumes 
precisely consist of, or from whence they derive this 
extraordinary power is not yet ascertained. The same 

* The discovery of the efiects of these ftiines 'on glass has become extensively 
Qsefal in the fine arts. The beantiful art of etching, or picture printing by glass 
pUtes, owes its original to the discovery here spoken of. The progress of the science 
of chemistry, since the date of Mr. Lee*s letter, has discovered uie nature of these 
famef and the rationale of their operation on glass, of which the principal ingredient ii 


cbemist has observed that the human breath turns violet 
colours red, and very exactly of that shade which is given 
to them by the muriatic acid.* 

I have read Dr. Robertson's late history of America ; 
not with the satisfaction I expected. Voltaire, in his His- 
toire General, has in my judgment touched it with a much 
more masterly hand. 

1 beg my respects to the Marquesa, and to be remem- 
bered to our philosophical friends. I hope not only to 
hear from you, but to be assured too that your journey 
and the baths have entirely re-established your health.f 

I am, dear sir, with great respect and regard, your friend 
and humble servant, Arthur Lee. 

To his excellency the Marquis of Roaignan, 
Sardinian Envoy, at Berliv^.'*'* 

. " Parjs, Oct. 18, 1777. 

Dear Sir, — I was comforted for the unhappy fate of 
our accomplished friend AUeyne, by hearing that you 

* All the acids turn vegetable blues red ; and the alkalis conyerts the red to hlue 
again. The human breath contains a portion of carbonic acid. Hence the blae sit- 
mus paper is changed to a red colour by exposure to the bnoaan breath. The reader 
will excuse these collegiate reminiscences. 

t The name of Voltaire brings to the recollection of the author an anecdote which 
Mr. Lee has written at the bottom of a page (in a toI. of Voltaire's works) of fait 
Essay on Epic Poetry. - While Mr. Lee resided in France a learned Italian count, 
who had just been travelling through England, dined with him, in a leaqied company 
assembled by Mr. Lee to enjoy the society of the Italian. The count related a fact 
which had happened in his presence some years before when in England. He 
had been invited to dine with Voltaire, who was then on a visit to England, and 
Dr. Young, the author of the Night Thoughts, at the house of some gentleman in 
London. The reader will recollect that \ oltaire pretended to entertain a great con- 
tempt for Mihon's Paradise Lost, and had endeavoured to ridicule that inimitable 
poem, in his Essay on Epic Poetry. Dr. Young ardently admired Milton. He was 
said to be very animated in his manner, and venenjent in his temper. During their 
sitting a(\er dinner the conveisation turned on epic poetry, and Voltaire attacked va- 
rious parts of the Paradise Lost with much ridicule. Dr. Young warmly vindicated 
the beauties and sublimity of the passages so treated by Voltaire. The Doctor grew 
more and more worm and vehement in his manner, and unconsciously grasped a 
large knife near him, and leaning forward toward Voltaire appeared to oim to be 
getting too near, Voltaire, who had a great dread of a hot-headed Englishman, be- 
eame quite uneasy at the manner of the Doctor. He at length began to draw back 
his chair, and the Doctor still leaned towards him, nearer and nearer, with increasing 
earnestness, until Voltaire rose and stepped back, upon which the Doctor rising to- 
wards him, vehemently uttered the following extemporary verse. 

<* Yon little, profligate and thin, 
You are Miltont devil, death, and sin." 

Voltaire was remarkably small and thin. The passage of Milton's Paradise Lost 
which Voltaire had been ridiculing, wan Milton's Personification of Death and Sin. 

120 LIFS OF 


*were coining forward in his place. It was impossible 
not to have an afTection for a man so worthy of it, ex- 
cept in those failings which I knew too well, and by which 
he himself was the greatest sufferer, I never yet met 
with a man whose talents were greater, or more calcu- 
lated to please and instruct. The great fortune to which 
he was born nourished in him I believe that turn for ex- 
travagance which was the source of all his misfortunes. 
Peace be to him ! I shall ever remember him with es- 
teem and regret. If you see any of his family be pleased 
to remember me to them. 

Mr. Bolton flatters me that you will pqt forth your 
utmost strength upon the great question of impressment. 
It is of the last importance to the security of thc'subject, 
and to the honour of the police of the kingdom, that this 
questioQ should be decided. For what can more abase 
the dignity of the constitution, or endanger the security 
of the subject, than that the least enlightened and most 
abandoned of the community, for of such press-gangs are 
usually composed, should be supposed to have a legal 
.power of judging and executing in what concerns the 
dearest object of legal protection, personal liberty ? To. 
say no worse of this practice and to suppose no intention 
of oppression, it is certainly left to every press-gang to 
judge who it is that comes within the description of the 
warrant under which they act, and in the instant to ex** 
ecute that judgment with rufSan violence, and drag the 
unhappy victim covered over with wounds into the most 
dismal of all dungeons, where the approach or knowledge 
of his friends is always difficult, and may easily be ren- 
dered impossible. 

It ever appeared to me the grossest of all absurdities, 
to suppose the law could authorize that which overturns 
all law, and soberly commit to a drunken beadle a sum- 
mary judgment and execution without trial or appeal, 
which is not trusted to the gravest and most dignified 
judges of the land, nor even to the sceptre itself. With 
regard to Mr. Foster's law argument I am satisfied from 
my own experience that you ;^ill find that by searching 
into the ancient records, that it is the sophistry of an 

ARTHUR LE£. ' 12^1 

advocate and not the opinion of a judge. Among the 
innumerable arguments against it, these appear to me to 
be conclusive, and to prove beyond controversy that to 
use an expression of some note, it is a lewd custom and 
not law. First, the ancient warrants vouched for press- 
ing seameq do equally authorize the impressing all men, 
since after describing many others besides mariners they 
conclude " et altos guoscunquc.^^ These therefore prov^ 
ing too much, prove in fact nothing, but that the whole 
is an usurpation on the part of the crown. SecondJy, 
there is no writ in the register authorizing the recovery 
of a mariner so pressed into the service, which, had it 
ever been deemed legal, must inevitably have been the 
case. The general rule that there is no right without a 
remedy, is more especially true with regard to the pre- 
rogative. Had there ever been a right in the crown to 
force seamen into its service, there would have been a 
writ to retake them when they deserted. But the writ 
is for those only who have received wages, and the con- 
version of those wages being a proof of consent, that 
conversion is specified in the writ. It is manifest then 
that the consent, and not force, was what, in contempla- 
tion of law entitled the crown to claim the mariner's 
service. Besides, the practice carries an internal evi- 
dence of its illegality with it, since a community of rob- 
bers could not devise an institution -more inconsistent 
with law aiid order, or uioDe strongly marked with vio- 
lence and wrong. 

You will do me a very great favour if you will pre- 
serve and convey to me the arguments and opinions upon 
this question, should it come forward. Perhaps the in- 
temperance of some one among us may be some time or 
other inclined to introduce it into the United States. 

Next to the establishment of our own liberties, the 
redemption of your's is my warmest wish. 1 think it is 
inevitable that the trial must come forward with you in 
a few years. The Scotch domination drives on too fast 
to continue long unquestioned. The weight of the yoke 
from which we have withdrawn will be concentrated 
upon you. Those who expect experience will make the 

VOL. I. 16 


•■ "^ 

more moderate in 




.«.tiu v^iii> I think, be mis* 

.,:.^»ji Hill be much more likelj 

^ frju re form their judgiKient, to; their tjranny. But ia my 

^ ^.t jLiiien^ken more .than their abili- 

.«« Hiicii J tfaiuk showy, not solid, can 

..*. {a the end therefore I hope to see 

ȴ "^iMMr as I have every reason to trust 

•s. ,v uiuieiK^ment of a correspondence, this letter 

M-.%»u ^''^^ appear tedious. I shall therefore close 

« ^ :,» uN>jt *«'^ you that there is no one in whose re- 

^^u.vK.4*JvV ^ustd friendship 1 shall be happier than in 

M»^^ the honour to be your's, with the truest esteem, 

Arthur Lee. 
/V ^'iUkan JoneSy Esq. Middle TempU:^ 



The effect of the capture of Bnrgoyne in France and other parts of Europe — ^The 
French Court reaolves on a Treaty of Alliance with the United States — Debates 
- on the sobject of the 11th and 12th Articles of the Treaty — Mr. Lee refuses to 
concnr with his colleagues in these Articles — The French Court consents that 
congress may strike them out of the Treaty, without affecting its yalidity — Con- 
gress concurs with Mr. Lee and strikes out those Articles — Mr. Lee's efforts to 
induce Spain to join the Alliance— He procures a secret and separate Article from 
the French Court in relation to Spain — His endeavours to procure a loan of two 
millions of pounds sterling from Spain for Congress — ^His correspondence with 
Mons. Dumas of Holland — Intrigues of British secret agents in Paris — ^Mr. Lee 
detects and exposes them — Invitation of the Congress to Dr. Price, to remove to 
America and become a citizen of the United States — ^Mr. Lee's letter and Price's 
reply — Sketch of the labours and services of Mr. Lee while in France — His jour- 
nal of negotiations with the French and Spanish minister — His correspondence 
with Congress — ^Return of Mr. Lee to America ; causes of it — ^His arrival and 
reception in the United States — His reception by Congress — He is elected a 
member of the Virginia Assembly, and is chosen by that body a delegate to Con- 
gress — Is appointed by Congress a Commissioner to treat with all the north- 
western tribes of Indians— Is chosen by Congress one of the Board of Treasury, 
at which he continued from the year 1784 to 1789 — His retirement — His conti- 
nued correspondence with eminent foreign persons of distinction — ^His literary 
honours — His death and character. 

The reader has seen from the letters of Mn Lee on 
the subject of Burgoyne's surrender, that the intelligence 
of that event had produced a very favourable effect upon 
the minds of public men in Europe. It changed the poli- 
cy of the French court towards the United States ; and 
though the Spanish court did not so promptly yield to 
this effect, its assurances of amity and aid became more 
earnest and unequivocal. 

The French court immediately entered into negotia- 
tions on the subject of a treaty of alliance and commer- 
cial intercourse.^ The reason given by the Spanish min- 
istry for its dilatory course towards the United States, 
was the hazard to which ap open alliance with them 
would expose their fleet, then not yet returned from 
South America with the annual supply of silver. 

124 LIF£ OF 

The reader will find in the journal of Mr. Lee, a mi- 
nute and a most interesting detail of the progress of the 
negotiation with the French court, for a treaty of alliance 
and commerce. It appears that the first projets of a 
treaty presented by the French ministry did not contain 
the word "sovereign" when the United States were 
spoken of. Mr. Lee urged upon his colleagues the pro- 
priety of insisting on an express acknowledgment of our 
sovereignty and independence, to be inserted at once into 
the proposed treaty. In support of his opinion of the 
propriety and duty in the American commissioners, of 
insisting upon this acknowledgment in the commence- 
ment of the negotiation, he referred to the instance of 
Holland, whose independence was not acknowledged for 
nearly half a century after it had freed itself from the 
Spanish crown. At his suggestion an article was in- 
serted specifying the possessions of Great Britain, on 
and near the continent of North America, which France 
was to be bound not to attempt" to conquer during the 
war. The reader will peruse Mr. Lee's journal of this 
period with great interest. 

The provisions of the 1 1th and 12th articles of the 
treaty of commerce with France presents the subject of 
most interest in the history of our early negotiations with 
that country. The propositions of the French court which 
constituted these articles, were at one time embodied in 
the treaty. France at this time possessed the principal 
islands in the West Indies, which yielded the gredtest 
supply of molasses. It was proposed to our commission- 
ers, that t*he United States should exempt from, any tax 
or impost J all merchandize exported Jrom the United States 
to the French islands yielding molasses, by French subjects, 
while France should exempt from all duty the molasses 
exported from her islands to the United States by their 
citizens. As the principle of these articles, no less than 
the policy of them, formed a subject of difference be- 
tween the commissioners, and of difficulty in the negoti- 
ation ; and became a subject of debate in congress, and 
of renewed negotiation after the consent of that body 
had been gladly and gratefully given to every other part 


of the treaty, the reader will expect from a'faithful biog- 
rapher of Mr. Lee more than a passing notice of the in- 
teresting topics relating to them. The two articles 
which were earnestly debated in their day, are in these 
words in the original treaty. 

" Article 1 Ith. It is agreed and concluded that there 
shall never be any duty imposed on the exportation of 
the molasses that may be taken fay the subjects of the 
United States from the islands of America, which belong 
or may hereafter appertain to his most Christian ma- 

" Article 12th. In compensation of the exemption 
stipulated by the preceding article, it is agreed and con- 
cluded that there shall never be any duties imposed upon 
the exportation of any kind of merchandize, which the 
Subjects of his most Christian majesty may take from 
the countries and possessions, present or future, of any 
of the thirteen United vStates, for the use of the islands 
which shall furnish molasses." 

Mr. Lee, from the commencement of the conferences 
upon these articles, earnestly opposed the adoption of the 
proposition of the 12th article, on the ground that the 
exemption stipulated for in that article as an equivalent 
for the exemption of the 1 1th article, was greatly more 
than a fair equivalent. The single article. of molasses to 
be taken from the French islands was to be exempted 
from duties by France ; but all merchandize exported to 
those islands by the subjects of France, was to be ex- 
empted from duties by the United States. Mr. Lee 
however, anxious to secure an alliance with France, 
was not disposed to secure it at such a price. He con- 
tended that reciprocity should constitute the basis of the 
treaty, and that there should be some just proportion be- 
tween equivalents. He forcibly remarked that an agree- 
ment to these articles would be a permission to France, 
" to tie both ofourhands^^^ for the privilege of " tying one 
of her fingers J*'* 

As the French ministry seemed desirous to retain 
these articles, and as Mr* Lee's colleagues assented to 
them, he waived for a time his objections, and they were 

126 LIFE OF 

comprehended in the treaty. His reasons for this waiver 
of objections, which to his mind appeared to be insuper- 
able, he states to be a desire to exhibit unanimity in the 
commissioners, and to procure a speedy conclusion to 
their^ negotiations for a treaty. But upon further reflec- 
tion his mind became more strongly impressed with the 
impolicy of these articles, and he finally refused to sign 
the treaty unless there should be an explicit understand- 
ing with the French court, that they should be considered 
as open to the adoption or rejection of th(? congress of 
the United States ; and that the rejection of them should 
form no impediment to the ratification of the treaty. 
The notes of Mr. Lee to his colleagues, and their replies 
are here given. They present the reasons of Mr. Lee 
for disagreeing to the 11th and r2th articles, and afibrd 
a gratifying specimen of his ability as a statesman and 

"Chaillot, January 30ih, 1778. 

To the Hon'ble Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane. 

Gentlemen, — More mature consideration and fuller 
lights upon the subject have satisfied me that I was 
wrong in receding from my opinion against the admissi- 
bility of the 12th article in the proposed commercial 
treaty. I should therefore think myself neglectful of the 
duty I owe to the public if I did not endeaX'Our yet to 
prevent that measure before our signature has rendered 
it irrevocable. And certainly nothing short of totally 
preventing the treaty from being concluded will prevail 
upon me to sign it if that article is to stand. 

What has thus confirmed me in my former sentiments 
is this ; at the conclusion of Mr. Gerard's observations 
upon what we proposed, he said they had no design to 
lay duties upon their molasses, nor was it compatible 
with their policy. Dr. Franklin informed me yesterday 
that a substitute for molasses had been found in America, 
procurable from a substance, which is the growth of the 
country, and of infinite plenty. A prohibition on the 
export of their molasses will effect every purpose which 


we are" providing against by restraining the imposition of 

From these considerations it seems clear to me that 
molasses is not such an important object as was stated ; 
that the demand is more likely to diminish than increase ; 
that there is no sound reason for apprehending that with- 
out any restraint, duties will be imposed on that article ; 
that if there were the strongest reasons for that appre- 
hension, the sacrifice does not secure us from the'evil it 
is intended to prevent. 

If these reasons are not utterly fallacious, we are by 
the article proposed really tying both our hands with the 
expectation of binding one of her fingers. The princi- 
ple too is, and the effect must be, the encouragement 
of commerce at the expense of agriculture. Whatever 
temporary advantages it may give will be permanently 
pernicious to our country. Nor is it an argument of lit- 
tle weight with me that we are binding pur constituents 
forever, upon a point on which they have not had an op- 
portunity of giving their instructions. How far it is 
within the limits of our powers and our discretion I am 
exceedingly doubtful. 

I would therefore submit to you, gentlemen, upon the 
ground of the article not having been in the plan given for 
our guidance, and of doubts which have arisen amongst 
ourselves about the approbation it will meet with, if it 
should be unrejected by the court here, that we should 
propose that both articles should be left open to be rejected 
or admitted by congress^ without affecting their ratification 
of the rest of the treaty. This exception will, it seems to 
me, refer the decision to that arbitration which ought to 
determine it, and free us from any possible imputation 
of having acted wrong, or of having exceraed our 

I am willing that whatever charge of levity may arise 
from thus renewing the negotiation may be wholly visited 
upon me. Though indeed, as I thiitk we are treating 
with gentlemen of sense and candour, I am under no ap- 
prehension that they will view in any such light an anx- 
iety to act with the utmost circumspection in a business 

128 LIFE OF 

of great moment, and of doubtful effect* I must beg, 
gentlemen, an immediate consideration of what I pro- 
pose, and that you will do me the favour of apprizing me 
of your determination as soon as you have formed it. 

I have the honour to be very respectfully, your obedi- 
ent and humble servant, Arthur Lee*'' 

To this forcible statement of his objection to the 12th 
article, his colleagues returned him the following reply. 

"Passy, February 1st, 1778. 

Sir, — We have maturely considered your letter of the 
30th past. And although we cannot see the mischiev- 
ous consequences of the 12th article which you appre- 
hended, yet conceiving that unanimity on this occasion 
is of importance, we have* written to M. Gerard this 
morning that we concur in desiring that article and the 
preceding to be omitted, agreeable to his first proposal. 

We have the honour to be sir, your obedient hum- 
ble servants, Benjamin Franklin, 

Silas Deane.* 

TJie Hon. Arthur LeeJ^^ 

This reply was accompanied with a copy of the joint 
letter of the two commissioners to Mons. Gerard, who 
was the minister appointed by the French court to nego- 
tiate the treaties with the American commissioners. 

« Passt, Feb. 1st, 1778. 

To Mons. Gerard. 

Sir, — ^Mr. Lee having signified to us, that on further 
consideration he has changed his sentiments relating to 
the 12th Article, and that he cannot join in signing the 
treaty if that article remains in it ; and as unanimity on 
this occasion is of some importance, and the articles 1 1 
and 12 seem not perfectly consonant with the declared 
spirit of the treaty, which is to leave each party free in 

* This note ii copied fiom an attested copy from the original. 



its regulations of commerce ; we concur in requesting 
(if it can be done without occasioning delay) that those 
two articles may be omitted, agreeable to your own 
first proposition. 

We have the honour to be sir, your most obedient 
humble servants, Benjamin Franklin, 

Silas Deane."* 

The French minister replied that as the treaty had 
been ratified by the king, under his seal, the articles 
could not be erased ; but that Mr. Lee's proposition 
would be accepted. It was agreed that the two articles 
should stand in the treaty, subject however to the adop- 
tion or rejection of congress ; and that the rejection of 
them by that body should not invalidate the ratification' 
of the treaty. Mr. Lee joined his colleagues in signing 
it, and this instrument (the sign of independence and 
hope in the western heavens !) was immediately trans- 
mitted to America. 

The congress and the people of the United States re- 
ceived the treaty with the liveliest emotions of joy and 
gratitude. The congress instructed their commissioners 
to return their acknowledgments to Louis by the follow- 
ing resolve. \ 

" In Congress, May 4th, * 1 778. — Resolved, That this 
congress entertain the highest sense of the magnanimity 
and wisdom of his most Christian majesty so strongly ex- 
emplified in the * Treaty of Amity,' and * Commerce,' 
ancl * the Treaty of Alliance,' entered into on the part of 
his majesty with these United States, at Paris, on the 
6th February last ; and the commissioners, or any of them 
representing these states at the court of France, are di- 
rected to present the grateful acknowledgments of this 
congress to his most Christian majesty, for his truly 
magnanimous conduct respecting these states, in the said 
generous and disinterested treaties, and to assure his 
majesty on the part of this congress, that it is sincerely 
wished that the friendship so happily commenced be- 

* This note m taken from the oikinal sent to Mr. Lee. It is in the hand-writini; 
of Dr. FnnUin. 

VOL. I. 17 



tween France and these United States may be perpet- 

As soon however as the congress and the people were 
left free from the emotions so natural and just, and were 
recalled by the voice of duty to consider the treaty in the 
light of reason, a decided sentiment against the 1 1th and 
12th articles was the result. They were rejected, and 
congress instructed their commissioners to acquaint the 
French court of the rejection of them, and signify to it 
that congress approved the principle upon which the 
treaty had been negotiated, that both nations should be 
left without restriction by treaty stipulations, to adopt in 
future whatever commercial regulations they should 
judge most conducive to their respective interests. The 
court of France agreed that the articles should be ex- 
punged, and the treaty was finally and completely ratified 
without them, in a spirit of entire harmony and good wilL 

During the pendency of the negotiations with the 
French court,. Mr. Lee as minister from the United 
States to the court of Spain, M^as mindful of his duties 
in this capacity. He earnestly endeavoured to procure 
the immediate accession of Spain to the treaty of alli- 
ance and commerce concluded with France. But all his 
efforts were without effect to move the slow and cau- 
tious policy of that court. It declined for the present to 
join France in the treaty with the United States. But 
Mr. Lee procured a secret and separate article to be en- 
tered into by the King of France with him as minister to 
Spain, the purport of which was that his most Christian 
majesty in concluding the treaty of amity and commerce 
and of eventual and defensive alliance with the United 
States, had reserved for his ally the King of Spain, a 
right of future accession to the treaties and to the ben- 
efits of their stipulations. This act was in the following 
words, as translated from the French language by Mr. Lee. 

(Act Separate and Secret.) 

** The most Christian King declares in consequence of 
the inumate union which subsists between him and the 

* See the JounaW 



Kmg of SpaiD, that m concluding with the United States 
of America this treaty of amity and commerce, and that 
of eFcntual and offensive alliance, his majesty hath in- 
tended and intends to reserve expressly, as he reserves 
by this present separate and secret act to his Catholic 
majesty, the power of acceding to the said treaties, and 
to participate in their stipulations at such times as^ he 
shall judge proper. It being well understood, neverthe- 
less, that if any of the stipulations of the said treaties are 
not agreeable to the King of Spain, his Catholic majesty 
may propose other conditions analogous to the principal 
aim of the alliance, and conformable to the rules of equal- 
ity, reciprocity and friendship. The deputies of the 
United States in the name of their constituents, accept 
the present declaration in its full extent ; and the deputy 
of the said states, who is fully empowered to treat with 
Spain, promises to sign on the first requisition of hi$ 
Catholic majesty, the act or acts necessary to communi- 
cate to him the stipulations of the treaties above written. 
And the said deputy shall endeavour in good faith the ad- 
justment of the points in which the King of Spain may 
propose any alteration conformable to !^e principles of 
equality, reciprocity and perfect amity; he, the said 
deputy not doubting but that the person or persons em- 
powered by his Catholic majesty to treat with the Unit- 
ed States, will do the same with regard to any altera- 
tions of the same kind that may be thought necessary by 
the said plenipotentiary of the United States. 

In faith whereof the respective plenipotentiaries have 
signed the present separate and secret article and affixed 
to the same their seals. Done at Paris the 6th Februa* 
ry 1778. Benjamin Franklin, 

C. A. Gerard. ^ SilIs Deane, 

Arthur Lee, 
Depute Plen^o : pour la France et PEspagne.^^^ 

During the year 1778 the commissioners were employ- 
ed in attending to the concerns which the reader will 

* See Secret Jovnial, voL ii. p. 88. 


readiljapprehendmust have arisen in the relations between 
two independent nations, now openly and closely allied. 
They were numerous ; and required all the labour and 
attention that could be bestowed on them. Mr. Lee 
gave to them his full share of labour and activity. But he 
bore the additional character of sole commissioner to the 
court of Spain, and of acting commissioner to Berlin. 
His duties therefore were more various in their charac- 
ter, and more numerous than those which devolved on 
his colleagues. His mind was kept in constant exercise, 
and his labours were severe and ceaseless.. He did not 
for a moment lose sight of the interests of his country 
connected with foreign powers ; and the zeal and dili- 
gence with which he devoted himself to his official duties, 
equalled the ability he displayed in the performance of 
them. The negotiations which be conducted during the 
year 1778 with the court of Prussia, may be seen in the 
•^th No. of the Appendix. He conducted a continued 
correspondence during that year with the Prussian minis- 
ter. He had the honour of obtaining, as the reader has 
seen, a promise from the Prussian monarch that he would 
second France it acknowledging the independence of the 
United States. 

Mr. Lee did not remit his efforts during this year to 
induce the court of Spain to accede to the treaties con- 
cluded with France. But it continued equivocally to de- 
cline all Mr. Lee's propositions. At length Mr. Lee be- 
came weary by the delay of that court to give a definite 
answer to them ; and had formed a resolution to repair to 
Madrid, and enjoy the advantages of personal conferen- 
ces with the Count Florida Blanca. Having some doubt 
of the propriety or probable policy of such a step, he con- 
sulted the friendly and candid Vergennes on the subject 
in the following note in French, of which Mr. Lee's trans- 
lation is here given. 

« Paris, Oct. 12th, 1778. 

To his excellency the Count de Vergennes. 

Your excellency has seen in the separate and secret 
act signed the 6th February 1778, that I am charged with 

p ARTHUR LEE. 133 

full powers to conclude a treaty with Spain. You are 
also acquainted with my having been in Spain, and hav- 
ing bad conferences with the Duke de Grimaldi on this 

Ail the objections which were then alleged against an 
immediate declaration are now removed. The consisten- 
cy of our cause is now unquestionable. France is ready 
and has actually declared; their treasures are safe, and 
the fleet from Buenos Ayres is in their harbours. Yet 
we do not see the least movement on their part towards 
realizing the hopes they gave us ; but on the contrary, 
what ostensible measures they have taken, most certainly 
give encouragement to our enemies. That court has not 
thought proper to take the least notice of the ratification 
of the separate and secret act which I announced to 
them. While we are therefore bound, they are at liberty. 

All this sir, gives me much uneasiness. I am appre- 
hensive that congress will not think this mode of acting 
very satisfactory ; and that the encouragement it must 
hold out to the court of London will prolong this perni- 
cious war, and make it cost us more blood and treasure 
than is necessary to tie the hands of our common ene- 
my, and establish effectually the liberty, the sovereignty, 
and independence of the United States. 

In these very critical circumstances I must have re- 
course to the king and to your excellency. Our cause is 
common ; and it is my wish to conduct it by your expe- 
rience, your lights, and your counsel, as to the measures 
I am to take, whether it be to act or to wait. This 
would always be my desire, iSut I consider it now my 
duty ; for it seems to be the mutual sentiment of your 
court and of congress, that the eventual treaty signed at 
Paris on the 6th February is now become actual, perma- 
nent, and indissoluble. The first article of that treaty 
says that if war should break out between France and 
Great Britain during the continuance of the present war 
between the United States and England, his majesty and 
the United States will make it a common cause, and will 
aid each other with their mutual good offices, counsels, 
and forces, according to the exigency of things, and as be- 
comes good and faithful allies. . 


It is upon these principles that I think it my duty to 
endeavour to place upon an equal footing the interests of 
France and the United States ; and therefore not to com- 
mence any thing without the concurrence of your court. 
Upon the same principles I flatter myself with obtaining 
the aid and assistance of your wisdom and information, 
as to the moment of commencing the measures to be 
taken and the means to be employed with the court of 

I am persuaded, and always was so, that Great Britain 
cannot make head for a year against the united counsels 
and force of the house of Bourbon and the United States 
of America. 

I have the honour to be your excellency's very obedi* 
ent servanti Arthur Lee." 

The count advised that Mr. Lee should not at this time 
press the subject further on the Spanish court. Mr. Lee 
was guided by his counsel, and did not go to Madrid, but 
continued in friendly correspondence with the minister 
of Spain at Paris. Though Spain thus long declined the 
overtures of the United States to an open alliance, the 
good understanding and the friendly biases of the former 
towards the latter which had hitherto subsisted continued 
to e|[ist. A pleasing proof of this is exhibited in the fol- 
lowing communication of Mr. Lee made to the Spanish 
court, by the direction of congress. That body must 
have been well assured of the cordiality of Spain towards 
their cause, when they would have disclosed to her cabi- 
net, yet holding ostensibly amicable relations with Great 
Britain, the wants and distresses of their country. Their 
representative performed the duty assigned him by their re- 
sol ve,with no ordinary ability and with the desired success. 
Towards the close of the year 1777 the fiscal affairs of 
the United States were greatly embarrassed. The rapid 
depreciation of their paper money had already been at- 
tended with serious consequences, and threatened for the 
future more deplorable evils. In consequence of thb 
state of things, congress on the 23d December 1777 passr 
ed a resolution, instructing and authorizing their com- 


missionen at the different courts to make an immediate 
and earnest application for a loan of two millions sterlings 
upon term& specified in the resolution. As soon as the 
resolution and the instructions reached Paris, Mr. Lee 
addressed this earnest and well adapted letter to the 
prime minister of Spain through her resident ambassador 
at Paris. 

*^Mt. Lee presents his respects to his excellencj 
Count D'Aranda, and begs he will have the goodness to 
forward the packet which he has the honour of enclosing 
him, and which is on business of the last importance, by 
the first opportunity to his court* 

ChaiUotyJultf 19, 1777." 

'^ To his excellency the Count Florida Blanca* 

I have the honour of transmitting to your excellency 
the enclosed resolution of congress, with my most earn- 
est prayer that it may be immediately laid before the 
king. Nothing but the uncommon exigency of the pre- 
sent war, attended with such peculiar circumstances with 
regard to the United States, would prevail upon them to 
press so much upon his majesty's goodness. That ne* 
cessity must also plead my pardon for entreating your 
excellency to let me have as early an answer as possible. 
As the United States have the highest confidence in the 
friendship of the king, they promise themselves that his 
goodness will afford this loan, as a relief to their most 
urgent distresses. With regard to the interest, the 
qnantum of that they refer themselves to his majesty's 
justice. Five per cent, is the legal interest with them, 
but I am authorized to give six if his majesty should de- 
sire it. 

This interest will be most punctually paid, and they 
will neglect no means of liquidating the principal, if de- 
sired, sooner than the stipulated time ; which will be 
easily accomplished when peace or some other employ- 
ment of the enemy's navy than that of preying upon the 
trade of the United States, will permit their exports to 
.find European markets. 

Your excellency will perceive that this loan is appro- 


priated to sink the paper money which necessity obliged 
congress to issue. An infant and unprepared people 
compelled to defend themselves against an old, opulent 
and powerful, and well appointed nation, were driven to 
this resource of issuing paper. They were to create ar- 
mies and navies, to fortify towns, erect forts, defend 
rivers, and establish government ; besides the immense 
expense of maintaining a war, that' pressed them power- 
fully on all sides. For these purposes, they had neither 
funds established, taxes imposed, specie in their country, 
nor commerce to introduce it. In this exigency paper 
money was their only resource, and not having been able 
for the same reasons to redeem it, the depreciation which 
necessarily followed threatens the total destruction of 
their credit, and consequently their only means of main- 
taining their independence. 

In this distress their hope is fixed upon his majesty ; 
and I most earnestly beseech your excellency so to repre- 
sent our situation to the king, as may move his royal be- 
nevolence to furnish the relief we wish, which would 
raise an everlasting tribute of gratitude in the people of 
the United States. 

I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, 
your excellency's most obedient and humble servant, 

Arthur Lee. 

Paris, July 18, 1778.'' 

The resolution of congress is here added. 

" In congress, Dec. 3, 1777. 

The great quantity of paper money issued to defray 
the expenses of the war, having at length become so 
considerable as to endanger its credit, and congress ap- 
prehending the slow operation of taxes may not be ade- 
quate to the preventing of an evil so pernicious in its 
consequences, and as experience proves that the method 
of paying the interest by bills on France does not fill the 
loan office so fast as the urgent calls of the war de^ 

Resolved, that the commissioner at, &c. be directed 

ARTHUR LEfi. 187 

to exert his uttnost endeavours to obtain a loan of two 
millions sterling, on the faith of the United States, for a 
term not less than five years, with permission if practi- 
cable, to pay the same sooner if it shall be agreeable to 
these states, giving twelve months previous notice to the 
lender, of such intention to return the money* That the 
commissioner be instructed to consider the money hereby 
directed to be borrowed, as a fund to be applied, unless 
congress direct otherwise, solely to the purpose of an- 
swering such draughts as congress shall make for the 
purpose of lessening the sum of paper money in circula- 

That in order more effectually of answering the good 
purposes intended by this plan, the commissioner be also 
instructed to keep as secret as the nature of the thing will 
admit, whatever loan be shall be able to obtain for this 
purpose on account of the United States.'' 

The court as well as the people of Holland, had enter- 
tained a strong sympathy for the people of the United 
States. It was a sympathy at; once natural, moral and 
politic* It was a moral sympathy between the *^ old 
republicans of Holland and the ^^new republicans of 
America ;" while it was the natural and politic feeling 
of one commercial state towards another commercial 
state. The kindly sentiments of the people and govern- 
ment towards the United States had induced congress to 
appoint an agent at the Hague. Mr. William Lee, a 
brother of Arthur Lee, had for some time past acted in 
the capacity of commercial agent of the United States 
at that place. 

Mr. Arthur Lee, with his usual activity and zeal, had 
done much to conciliate the good will of the ministers 
and public men of Holland towards his country, to gain 
their respect and engage their interest in its affairs, from 
the suggestions and motives of policy. With these views 
he had corresponded with some of the leading men of 
that country, and had given to them all such information 
respecting the character of the people and institiitions of 
the United States, of their resources and commercial fa- 

VOL. I. 18 


cilities, as was calculated to produce an interested and at 
the same time a moral feeling, advantageous to the cause 
he had so much at heart. He wrote the following me- 
moire for the reading and commercial men in Holland, 
and sent it to one of his friends to be published in some 
of the popular gazettes at the Hague. 

« Mabch 31st, 1778. 

Monsieur Dumas, a la Hague. 

Dear Sir, — I enclose you a memoire written last year, 
but not sent in consequence of my going to Spain. You 
will be so good as to show it to your friends, and have it 
printed if you think that will be of any service. 

It is reported from America that a fire has happened 
at Charleston, which burnt 200 houses ; and that the Ca- 
nadians have taken up arms and declared for the United 

I am with great respect dear sir, your friend and ser- 
vant, Arthur Lee." 

Memoire of Arthur Lee, referred to in the preceding 
letter to Mons. Dumas. 

" When the ancestors of the present inhabitants of the 
United States of America first settled that country, they 
did it entirely at their own expense. Th6 public of Eng- 
land never granted one shiUing to aid in their establish- 
ment-t Had any such grants existed they must have 
been on record. The state of England therefore could 
not claim the benefit of an acquisition it had not made. 

* The author has found a note to the Count de Vergennes, containing a benevo- 
lent and becoming soggestion to that minister respecting the calamity which had 
befallen Charleston* 

"CHAILX.OT, April 17th, 1778. 
To the Coont Vergennes. 

Mr. Lee presents his respects to his excellency Count Vergennes^ And encloses a 
Gazette containing the speeches in the famous debate on the 8thk He begs it maj 
be returned when done with. 

Mr. Lee cannot help suggesting that the king has an opportunity of doing an act 
of great gracioosness towards America, in ordering a sum of money for the sufferers 
in the dreadful calamity of the fire in Charleston, Sooth Carolina. Such an act 
would be consonant to the character of benoTolence and generosity which his maje»- 
ty so deservedly bears ; and in a popular government like that of the United States, 
it might have a more favourable effect than the efforts of the ablest negotiator. 

With profound raq;Mct I have the honour to be, tec. Artuvii Lex." 

t Geoigia is an Moeption} for which gruiti have been made. 


Upon this principle the first settlers conceived they 
had a right to exchange and sell the produce of their labour 
to all nations without control This right they actually 
enjoyed unquestioned, until the year 1652. Then it was 
that the English, in violation of every principle of justice, 
usurped and established a monopoly of the American com- 
merce, which they maintained until the vigour of their 
domination compelled the Americans to reclaim their an- 
cient and unalienable rights, by declaring themselves free 
and independent states. In consequence of this, all na- 
tions are bow restored to a participation of that com- 
merce, from which the monopolizing spirit of the English 
had unjustly excluded them. 

No nation is more interested in this event than the 
Dutch ; because it was against them the establishment 
of the monopoly was chiefly intended. The great object 
of commercial policy with Holland was the carrying 
trade^ When the commerce of America was free, the 
number of Dutch vessels in the American ports exceeded 
those of England. But in the year 1651 a quarrel arose 
between the states of Holland and the then republic of 
England. The English, jealous of their naval power, 
resolved to destroy that American commerce which con- 
tributed so much to the support of the naval strength of 
Holland. To effect this, the council of state projected 
and passed on the 1st Dec. 1651 the Navigation Ordinance; 
by which the carriage of American produce was prohi- 
bited, except in English bottoms. The Dutch saw the 
intention and felt the effects of this measure. Their re- 
sentment of it added fuel to the war that raged from 
that time until the year 1654 with so much fury. Their 
success however was not sufficient to re-establish what 
had thus been wrested from them. In negotiating the 
peace which concluded that war, De Witt laboured with 
his usual abilities to obtain an abolition of that act, but 
all his efforts were ineffectual. Cromwell, who was not 
his inferior in acuteness, maintained the navigation act, 
and under Charles 11. it received the form and sanction 
of an act of the parliament. Thus in despite of all 
their efforts, this valuable branch of commerce was wrest* 
ed from the Dutch, and monopolized by the English. 

140 LIFE OF 

But what neither the uncommoa talents of DeWitt 
nor the struggles of an obstinate war could effect, the 
course of human events has produced. The wealth and 
power arising from this very monopoly so intoxicated 
Great Britain, as to make her think that there were no 
bounds to the exercise of the control she had usurped. Not 
content therefore with thus restraining the Americans for 
her own emolument in the mode of acquiring money, she 
arrogated to herself the right of taking that which was 
obtained under those restraints. The natural conse- 
quence of thus urging her domination, and adding a new 
usurpation to the former, was the abolition of the whole. 
America has in form renounced her connexion with Great 
Britain, and is maintaining her rights by arms. 

The consequence of her success will be the re-estab- 
lishment of commerce upon its ancient free and general 
policy. All nations are interested in this success ; but 
none so much as the Dutch. From them therefore, 
America in a most special manner looks for support. jRe* 
sentment of an ancient injury ^ the policy of their ancestors, 
and all their present interests, unite in calling upon them 
for a spirited avowal and support of the independence of 
America. They will not forget the blood that was spilt 
in endeavouring to vindicate their rights when first invad- 
ed. They will not forget the insolence and injustice with 
which Great Britain harassed their trade during the late 
war, by means of that very naval strength which she de- 
rived from their monopoly. They cannot but feel at this 
moment the insult and indignity from the British court, 
in pre3uming to forbid them that free participation of com- 
merce which America offers. 

The extraordinary remittances which -the people of 
America have made to the merchants of Great Britain 
since the commencement of this dispute, is a proof of 
their honour and good faith ; so much more safe and ad- 
vantageous is it to trust money with a young, and indus- 
trious, and thriving people, than with an old nation, over- 
whelmed in debt, abandoned to extravagance, and im- 
mersed in luxury. By maintaining the independence of 
America a new avenue will be opened for the employ- 


men! of money; where landed property as yet untonched 
by mortgage or other incumbrance, will answer for the 
principal, and the industry of a young and uninvolved 
people would ensure a regular payment of interest. The 
money holder would in that case be delivered from those 
continual fears and apprehensions, which every agitation 
of the English stocks perpetually excite. He might 
count his profits without anxiety, and plan his monied 
transactions with certainty. These are the substantial 
objects of advantage which America holds up to the peo- 
ple of Holland ; and this is the moment of embracing 

In a long and interesting letter to the committee of 
correspondence, written subsequently to his letter to 
Mons. Dumas, Mr. Lee informed them that he had pro- 
cured the publication in Holland of a memoire he had 
prepared for the purpose of attracting the attention of the 
court and public of that country to the affairs of the 
United States ; and that a well informed friend at the 
Hague had expressed to him an opinion ^^ that it would 
have a very good effect." His friend, Mons. Dumas, 
added to the preceding memoire some appropriate and 
well timed reflections, for which Mr. Lee thus thanks him. 

^ Chaillot, Judo 4tb, 1778. 

Mons. Dumas. 

Dear Sir, — It gave me great pleasure to receive the 
key to the treasure you sent us before in Dutch, my un- 
acquaintance with which prevented me from knowing 
how much I was obliged to you for the improvements 
made on the little essay I had the honour of sending 
you. * Felix^ faustumque sit.^ May it open the eyes of 
your people to -their own interest, before an universal 
bankruptcy in England and a compelled frugality in Ame^ 
rica have deprived them of the golden opportunity of ex- 
tricating themselves from bad debtors, and connecting 
themselves with good ones. 

So fair an opportunity of sharing in the most valuable 
commerce on the globe will never again present itself; 

%^ un or 

^ ftik<%^ c^v^ 3ce fiTcatlj indebted to the noble and 
4^uxt^ts>«^ trrnctpfc^ of France, which prevented this 
,>^t»\f* rvat Attempting to possess itself of the mo- 
>K^i^ wiica ttteat Britain had forfeited. In truth they 
^^^^ ^<^^i^ anJ ^^«^ principles, and, the connexion form- 
^< jijwir v):^« will be durable. France and the. rest of 
l^'^jiviv H^wl nerer pay too large a tribute of praise to the 
^TMJkHtt oi the most Christian king and his ministers in 
^;<^ iTjiiisaction. 

1 oa are happy in having the esteem and counsel of 
tlie Grand Facteur, who seems to have equal sense and 
^ood intentions. Our enemies seem embarrassed in 
their operations, as is generally the case with' the weak 
and the wicked. As far as we can learn their fleet has 
not yet sailed for America, to save the Howes from the 
fate that hangs over them. We have no intelligence on 
which we can rely. 

I have the honour to be dear sir, with the greatest re- 
spect, your friend and servant, Arthur Lee." 

On the 8th of April 1776, John Adams, Esq. arrived 
in Paris. He had been appointed a joint commissioner 
to France, in the room of Mr. Deane. With this gentle- 
man Mr. Lee had enjoyed previously no personal ac- 
quaintance ; but their characters and their patriotic and 
essential services to their common country had been long 
known to each of them. A personal friendship immedi- 
ately ensued, and continued during the life of Mr. Lee. 
The interesting letters of John Adams to him, written 
during his missions to Holland and England at a highly 
important period, will be read with earnestness and 
pleasure by every intelligent reader. They will be found 
in the Appendix, No. 9. 

In the early part of the year 1778, as the reader has 
learned from history, the British parliament, by the ad- 
vice of the ministry, who had foreseen the probability and 
consequences of a treaty of commerce and alliance be- 
tween France and the United States, authorized commis- 
sioners who were named in the act, appointing them to 
make pacific propositions to the congress. The ministry 


at the same time despatched a private agent, a gentle- 
man of much respectability, to Paris, for the purposes of 
watching the proceedings of the court of France, and of 
sounding our commissioners on the subject of a recon- 
ciliation with England. The following notes of Count 
Vergennes and Mr. Lee will give the reader some idea 
of the artful efforts made to obstruct the treaty with 
France. . They will at the same time illustrate the mu- 
tual confidence and good faith which existled between 
the able and amiable Vergennes and our commissioners* 

• ' **Chaillot, April 24th, 1778- 

Sir, — Since I had the honour of seeing your excellency 
I have learnt that Mr. Hartley in conversing with French 
people whose opinions he thinks may have weight, insinu- 
ates to them, that engaging in a war in our favour is very 
impolitic, since you cauxcxpect nothing from us but the 
ingratitude and ill faith, with which. we have repaid Great 
Britain. To us, he says, the Fr^^nch have done nothing 
for you, they can never be trusted ; no cordial connexion 
can be formed with them, therefore you had better re- 
turn back to your former connexion, which may be upoix 
your own terms if you will renounce France. This gen- 
tleman and the wise men who sent him have so high an 
opinion of our understandings, that they flatter them- 
selves these insinuations will succeed. 

I have also been informed that besides their commis- 
sioners, the ministry have despatched two persons to 
America to^ work privately as Mr. Hartley is doing. 
One of them is an American ; I know them, and both 
the size of their understanding and the degree of their 
influence. There is nothing to apprehend from either. 
These are the little projects of little spirits, and will be 
attended with proportional success. They show the im- 
becility and distress of our enemies, and will only change 
the detestation of America into utter contqmpt. 

I have the honour to be, with great respect, your ex- 
cellency's most obedient and most humble servant, 

Arthur Lee. 

JIi8 excellency Count de Vergennes,^^ 


144 LIF£ OF 

<< Versaillsi, April 24, 1778. 

I am much obliged to you sir, for giving me informa- 
tion touching the insinuations of Mr. Heartlej, as well 
to you as to those whom he thinks have an influence in 
this country. 

I do not doubt of his receiving as little credit with you 
as he certainly will with us. And I can answer for it 
that he will not find us susceptible of the suspicions he 
wishes to inspire. 

I am obliged to go immediately to council, and must 
beg you to accept the assurances of the respect with 
which I have the honour to be sir, your very obedient and 
humble servant, De Vergennes. 

The Hon. Arthur Xee.'' 

Previously to this time the British ministry had made 
an attempt, as unsuccessful as the one just related, to in- 
terrupt the amicable relations between France and the 
United States, and to prevent so hearty an union in the 
affections of the people of the two countries, as would 
alienate those of the latter altogether from Great Britain. 
For these purposes they had engaged an agent, and au- 
thorized him to make overtures of reconciliation to our 
commissioners. The name of this agent was Berken- 
hout. This gentleman had been a classmate and an in- 
timate friend of Mr. Lee while he was a student at the 
University of Edinburg. The former intimacy between 
Mr. Lee and this gentleman had become known to the 
ministry. Hence he was instructed to commence his 
efforts by seeking to renew his acquaintance with Mr. 
Lee, and by cautiously disclosing to him the disposition 
x)f the British Court, to propose terms of accommoda- 
tion. The ministry were doubtless desirous of retriev- 
ing the consequences of their violent proceedings against 
America, and to save Great Britain from the entire loss 
of so large and important a part of her empire. But 
they were yet unwilling to acknowledge the independ- 
ence of the United States. Neither their agents, Messrs. 
Hartley and Berkenhout, nor their commissioners, whom 
they had sent to America, were authorized to give any 
promise or pledge on that subject. The contest had con- 


tinned too long, and the people of the United States had 
been too confident of ultimate success, and had been too 
deeply smitten with the idea of national independence, 
to listen to any terms not founded on an acknowledg- 
ment of it. 

Dr. Berkenhout repaired to France in the latter part 
of the year 1777, and continued until the year 1778. 
He addressed a letter to Mr. Lee, inviting him to come 
to Calais. He gave him to understand that his visit to 
France was authorized by the court of London, and that 
he was charged with business of high import to the 
United States. Their correspondence was carried on 
under feigned signatures, at the^request of Dr. Berken- 
hout. He soon learned that while Mr. Lee was still 
true to the amiable and grateful recollections of friend- 
ship, he was a bold and inflexible patriot who would not 
despair of his country, and would indignantly spurn all 
idea of any connexion with Great Britain except that 
which may exist between independent nations. 

The following notes from Mr. Lee to Dr. Berkenhout 
will show the reader the spirit in which the ministerial 
proposals were met by the former, and the degree of en- 
couragement which he gave to the latter gentleman to 
hope for success in bringing about any amicable under- 
standing, without the previous and positive acknowledg- 
ment of the absolute independence of the United States. 
Notwithstanding the little success which attended Dr. 
Berkenhout's attempts at Paris, he was ^bsequently 
sent to the United States to aid the British commission- 
ers in similar efforts there.*^ 

" Augoit 1, 1777. 

Dr. B. — ^Amico has received and considered your last 
letter. To your last question he answers you may come 
if you are properly authorized. But it should be to 

* Dr. B. upon his arrival in America addressed himself to Richard Hemy Lee, 
from whom his proposals met with the same stern rejection that thej bad experi- 
«Qced from ths ooo^nial spirit of his brother. 

VOL. I. 19 

146 LIFE OF 

Paris, and not to Calais, because Amico's going thither 
would excite curiosity and suspicion. 
To Dr. BerkenhouV^ 

"December 3, 1777. 

Amico, — My last might serve as an answer to your's. 
We have power to receive^ not to makej overtures. Voila 
la difference. We have as much dignity, and I hope more 
reason on our side. If therefore they stay for overtures 
from us, I promise you they will not receive them till 
their faith can move our mountains. I hoped something 
from this negotiation, and therefore more willingly lent 
myself to it. But I now see too well their abundant 
pride and folly to think the public will derive any ad- 
vantage from it. They iaire determined to make us a 
great people by continuing a contest which forces us to fru- 
gality, industry and economy ; and calls . forth resources 
which without such necessity would never have been 
cultivated. I have long thought that if they intended 
us the benefits their conduct will bring us, we should 
owe them mountains of gold. Adieu." 

The Doctor continued, in spite of these stern rebukes, 
to continue in France and occasionally to introduce to 
Mr. Lee the subject of reconciliation with England, with 
the same result to all his efforts. To a request from the 
Doctor to disclose to him some intelligence upon which 
he might adventure in the business of stock-jobbing, Mr. 
Lee returned him this frank and wise advice. 

"January 13, 1778. 

Dr. Berkenhout. 

Dear Friend, — You could not possibly have written to 
a more improper person for intelligence to stock-job upon. 
I am determined that no consideration shall ever prevail 
on me to contribute to such work, and more especially 
in my situation. You must therefore pardon me if my 
friendship for you cannot go so far. Nor indeed can I 
help dissuading you from entering at all into a walk fre- 


quented by knaves and dupes, and in which, from all I 
have heard of it, nothing can save an honest man from 
being sacrificed to those who are not so. The acquaint- 
ance I have had with political business satisfies me that 
there is gredt risk in ensuring on political events* I ad- 
vise you to think no more of it. Farewell.'^ 

All the attempts of the court of London to arrest that 
progress of events which resulted in the treaties of com-, 
merce and alliance between France and the United States, 
proved abortive alike in both countries. The missions 
of Messrs. Hartley and Berkenhout, and of the commis- 
sioners sent to America, utterly failed. 

The author had not known the fact, and perhaps most 
readers are unacquainted with it, that the" " old congress^' 
had invited the celebrated Dr. Richard Price, so well 
known to politicians as an able writer on the recondite 
subjects of government and finance, and to the learned 
world as a profound metaphysician, to become a citizen 
'of the United States, and to assist them in the regula- 
tion of their financial systems. They accompanied this 
invitation with an. assurance, that if he should think it 
expedient to remove with his family to America, " a ge- 
nerous provision should be made for requiting his ser- 
vices.'' This resolution, so honourable to Dr, Price, is 
in these words : . 

« October ^, 1778. 

Resolved, that the honourable Benjamin Franklin, 
Arthur Lee, and John Adams, Esquires, or any of them, 
be directed forthwith to apply to Dr. Price and inform 
him that it is the desire of congress to consider him a 
citizen of the United States, and to receive his assist- 
ance in regulating their finances. That if he should 
think it expedient to remove with his family to America, 
. and aflR)rd such assistance, a generous provision shall be 
made for requiting his services."* 

His colleagues devolved upon Mr. Lee the office of 

* See Secret Joomab, Vol. II. p. 101. 

148 LIFE OP 

making knoxtn the foregoing Tesolatkm to Dr« Price. 
Between them there had existed, while Mr« Lee resided 
in England, a warm friendship and congeniality of senti- 
ment and opinions, on most subjects of learning and ab- 
stract research. The office was therefore a most grate- 
ful one, and he performed it with all his heart. It is to 
be regretted that no copy of Mr. Lee's letter in behalf 
of the commissioners has been found. The reply of Dr. 
Price is worthy of him. The reader will greet its inser- 
tion here. 

*' Newingtov Qrexit, Jan. 1779. 

Dear Sir, — Your most kind and excellent letter, to- 
gether with the letter conveying the resolution of con- 
gress, has made the deepest impression on my mind.* I 
entreat you to accept yourself and to deliver to Dr. 
Franklin and Mr. Adams my best acknowledgments. 
Though I cannot hesitate about the reply addressed to the 
honourable commissioners, and through them to congress, 
which accompanies this letter, yet so flattering a testi- 
mony of the regard of an assembly which I consider the 
most respectable and important in the world cannot but 
give me the highest pleasure, and I shall always reckon 
it among the first honours of my life. 

There is an indolence growing upon me as 1 grow 
older, whi(rh will probably prevent me forever from 
undertaking any public employment. When I am in \ny 
study and among my books, and have nothing to encum- 
ber me, I am happy ; but so weak are my spirits that 
the smallest hurry and even the consciousness of having 
any thing to do which must be done, will sometimes dis- 
tress and overpower me. What I have written on the 
subject of finances has been chiefly an amusement which 
I have pursued at my leisure, with some hope indeed, 
but very little expectation^ of its being useful. Nothing 
can be more melancholy than to see so many European 
states depressed and crippled by heavy debts, which 
have been the growth of ages, and which in the end 

* No copj of Mr. Lee'0 letter hero mentioned by Dr. PHce has been found 


mast rain them, but which a small appropriation faithful- 
ly applied might have always kept within the bounds of 
safety. This is particularly true of this country. Here 
our debt must soon produce a shocking catastrophe. 
The new world will I hope take warning and profit by 
the follies and corruptions and miseries of the old. 

My pamphlets on the principles of government and 
the American war, were extorted from me by my judg- 
ment and my feelings. They have brought upon me a 
great deal of abuse; but abundant amends have been 
made me by the approbation of many of the best men 
here and abroad ; and particularly by that vote of con- 

fress to which I suppose they may have contributed. 
V^hen you write to any of the members of that assembly 
be so good as to represent me as a zealous friend to lib- 
erty, who is anxiously attentive to the great struggle in 
which they are engaged, and who wishes earnestly for 
the sake of the world that British America may preserve 
its liberty, set an example of moderation and magnani- 
mity, and establish such forms of government as may 
render it an asylum for the virtuous and the oppressed 
in other countries. 

Tell Dr. Franklin that he is one of the friends in 
whom while in this country I always dejighted, and for 
whom I must ever retain. the greatest esteem and affec- 
tion. We are now separated from one another never 
probably to meet again on this side of the grave. May 
he long be preserved as a blessing to his country. My 
connexions and state of health are such that I must stay 
in this country and wait its fate. I do this with a pain- 
ful concern for the infatuation which has brought it into 
its present danger ; but at the same time with indiffer- 
ence as far as my own personal interest is concerned, 
and a perfect complacency in the consciousness of having 
endeavoured to act the part of a good citizen, and serve 
the best of all causes. Will you further mention me par- 
ticularly to Mr. Adams, and inform him that I greatly 
respect his character. 

Some good friends of yours and mine are well, but I 
differ from them at present in opinion. 

150 LIFE OF 

Under a grateful sense of your friendship and with 
great regard, and wishes of all possible happiness, I am 
my dear sir, your obliged and very obedient humble ser- 
vant, Richard Price. 

P. S. — The interest of mankind depends so much on 
the forms of government established in America, that I 
have long thought it the duty of every man to contribute 
all he can towards improving them. I am possessed of 
some observations which have been made by a great man 
with this view, and I may some time or other take the 
liberty to communicate them with a few additional ob- 
servations. R. P." 

The great object of the mission of Messrs. Franklin, 
Deane, and Arthur Lee to the court of France having 
been accomplished by the conclusion of the treaties with 
that nation, the principal exertions and labours of Mr. 
Lee during the years 1778 and 1779 were required by 
his office, and were devoted to his duties of sole commis- 
sioner to the court of Spain, and of the acting commis- 
sioner to that of Prussia. During this period he aided 
his brother, William Lee, in bis negotiations with Hol- 
land. Mr. Lee's attention to the duties of these com- 
missions, and his labours to advance the interests of his 
country in regard to them, were assiduous, able and pat- 
riotic. They were always onerous, always responsible, 
and generally perplexing. After having obtained loans 
and warlike supplies from the courts of Spain and Hol- 
land, and permission to purchase arms from the Prussian 
armories, he encountered, many difficulties and suffered 
vast trouble in the selections of the articles, in the 
necessary arrangements with the merchants, and in the 
making of arrangements with the subordinate agents and 
ministers of the several governments, as to the mode of 
ensuring and shipping them. Some estimate may be 
formed of the continuance, perplexity and minuteness of 
the labours of Mr. Lee during the periods just mention- 
ed, from his letters to the " Corresponding Committee" 
of Congress, and from his Letter Books and Journals, 
from which have been made the selectiotis accompanying 

ARTHUlt L££. 151 

this brief and feeble attempt to present to his country- 
men for their gratitude and imitation, a sketch of the 
character and services of this able and devoted patriot. 
His labours during the years 1778 and 1779 were suc- 
cessful in . some of their most important objects. He 
obtained in times of urgent need, loans from Spain and 
Holland, and military supplies from Prussia, on advan- 
tageous terms. 

During the period of which this brief view has been 
taken, Mr. Lee continued to act as agent for the state of 
Virginia, and to conduct negotiations with the court of 
France for supplies of arms, &c. for that commonwealth. 
To negotiate for loans and supplies was the least of the 
trouble and labours of Mr. Lee's official duties. The de* 
tails involved in the many interviews and arrangements 
with the different officers of the French government re- 
specting the Virginia supplies, and the delivery and ship- 
ping of them, added greatly and continually to the vari- 
ous other engagements of Mr. Lee. But no labour, 
however constant and wearying, no details of business 
however dry and minute, could abate his exertions. An 
unquenchable zeal for his suffering and struggling coun- 
try, ceaselessly animated his bosom. The evidence 
which supports this remark exists in a much greater 
amount than has been here exhibited to the reader. His 
conduct was indeed a commentary upon the noble de- 
claration he made in his admirable letter to Lord Shel- 
burne ; " I am determined to see the liberties of my 
country established, or to perish in her last struggle.'^ 
The continued attention of Mr. Lee to the business of 
supplies for the state of Virginia, amid his other multi- 
plied engag;ements, will be seen in his correspondence 
with Governors Henry and Page, which will be found in 
the Appendix, No. 4, (c) and No. 8. 

Towards the latter end of the year 1778, our affairs 
with France having assumed the regular form of the re- 
lations of an established government, it seems to have 
been thought by congress that a single national repre- 
sentative to that country would suffice ; and that a name 
of office, importing the dignity of national independence, 

162 LIFE OF 

was now appropriate to our condition* It was resolved 
that it was expedient to appoint a minister plenipoten- 
tiary to reside at the court of France. In October 1778 
Dr. Franklin was elected to fill that office. Our affairs 
with Spain, Prussia, Holland, and Getmanj, being still of 
an indefinite character, commissioners only were continued 
at their respective courts. Mr. Lee Was continued sole 
commissioner to Spain, and acting commissioner at the 
court of Prussia. A brief attempt has been made to 
give the reader a general idea of the value of his services 
during the period which elapsed from October 1778 un- 
til the end of the year 1779. H^ wrho shall read his cor- 
respondence during this tinaa, will perceive Aat it has 
been thought better to leave the reador to iorm a due 
estimate of the zeal and disinterestedness of Mr. Lee's 
services from the materials of this memoir, than from an 
elaborate effort of his biographer to present here a full 
statement of his labours. 

Great and undeniable as had been the patriotism and 
services of Mr. Lee, he did not escape the malicious in- 
sinuations and false charges of detected peculation, and 
conscious infidelity to public trust ; while he experienced 
the inevitable consequence of an honest performance of 
duty, the persecution of abating faction. A short period 
of his life afforded another instance, in addition to the 
many furnished by the- history of all times, that active 
virtue never passed along its whole- career without de- 
traction and injustice. To posterity, and not to contem- 
poraries, patriotism and virtue have ever been most in- 
debted for a just estimate of their claims to admiration 
and gratitude. 

The biographer of Mr. Lee, actuated by the same 
love of country that distinguished his subject, reluctant- 
ly records facts which cast a shade on any period of our 
revolutionary times. But this reluctance is lessened by 
the reflection, that while truth requires a glance at this 
shade, it is to be recorded, that its own redeeming ener- 
gy and testimony, informing and invigorating the zeal and 
public vhrtue which so distinguished the times of the 
American revolution, quickly dispelled the clouds of error 


and injustice from the character of one of the most hon- 
est and able of those public servants who had given suc- 
cess and lustre to that eventful and glorious epoch. 

When, in the latter end of the year 1779, it had be- 
come expedient to appoint a minister plenipotentiary to 
the court of Spain, and one or more to negotiate a treaty 
of peace with Great Britain, (which it was now probable 
Great Britain would consent to make with us as an in- 
dependent nation) Mr. Lee, though nominated, v^^as not 
elected to either of these honourable and important sta- 
tions. Any reader of ordinary sagacity and sensibility, will 
at once perceive that at least an apparent affront was offered 
to him. A person of less sensibility than he would have 
felt mortification, if not resentment.* After the long 
and important services of Mr. Lee at the court of Spain, 
to which may be so justly ascribed the friendly under- 
standing that had existed, and that was now on the eve 
of a successful consummation in the conclusion of a treaty 
recognising the independence of his country, the propri- 
ety and justice of conferring upon him the honour of the 
appointment of first minister plenipotentiary to that court, 
would seem clear and indisputable.! As soon as he re- 
ceived intelligence of this appointment he resolved to re- 
turn to America, and resign all employment under the 
congress. The reader may perhaps wonder that so long 
as he could render any service to his country abroad, the 
ardent and disinterested patriotism he had so long ex^- 
hibited had not induced him to remain in Europe, con- 
senting to sacrifice his feelings to the public good. The 
following sketch will suffice to acquit him of all undue 
regard to personal considerations of pride and etiquette. 
The many testimonies of the public respect and gratitude 
he received upon his return, make it unnecessary to go 
into much fi-^tail of the reasons which led him to re- 
turn, and of the circumstances which rendered his pre- 

* It will be seen by inspecting tbe vote, that the vote for Mr. Lee was nnmerons 
and respectable. 

t It was sorely meet that to him sboald have been afforded the opportunity of con- 
cinding a treaty with a nation with which he had so early, so long, and so ably 
negotiated, and of thus gloriously crowning his arduous labours and ardent wishes. 

VOL. I. 20 

154 LIFE OF 

sence in America an imperative duty to Iiimself and his 

It was of necessity that the congress employed many 
commercial agents ; and an equal necessity obliged them 
to authorize their commissioners to employ sub-agents to 
attend to details of business which it was impossible for 
the commissioners themselves to transact. Owing to the 
distance from the residence of the commissioners, of the 
places where the disbursementof the public moneys was 
made in the purchase and shipment of warlike supplies, 
which at this time could be purchased only in Europe, 
and the absence of a regular system of accountability, 
it was extremely difficult if not impossible, to secure a 
faithful application of the funds of the public, when it 
necessarily depended on the honesty alone of the agents 
employed. Such is the desire of gain, such is the " sacra 
aurijamesj^^ that in almost every instance the agents em- 
ployed by congress and by the commissioners, and the 
merchants with whom contracts were made, proved re- 
gardless of principle, and amassed wealth for themselves 
at the expense of the United States. This state of things 
existed to an extent which at this day would appear al- 
most incredible. Against this abuse Mr. Lee uniformly^ 
actively, dnd with an uncompromising spirit, opposed all 
the authority and restraint he could exercise. This course 
excited against him, as he was aware it would certainly 
do, the m6st intense dislike. The most desirable object 
to these faithless agents was to procure his dismission 
from the public service, and his recal to the United States. 
Various and malignant arts were employed and unceasing 
efforts were made to attain their purpose. He was a sub- 
ject of their constant abuse and complaint. They -secret- 
ly charged him with a concealed attachment to England, 
and insinuated that he was in truth little better than a 
spy upon his colleagues in the interest of the enemy. 
They first endeavoured to excite a suspicion and distrust 
of' him in the minds of the French ministers ; but failing 
to effect this design they next strove to infuse into the 
minds of their friends and connexions in America the 
strongest prejudices against him, by writing thither re- 


spectiiig him the grossest falsehoods^ They represented 
to them that he kept up an intimacy and correspondence 
with Hartley and Berkenhout, of the true nature of which 
the reader has been informed. Their friends naturally 
believed their representations, and imbibed their dislike 
and enmity. Many of these agents were of respectable 
families in America, and some of them had relations and 
friends in congress. By the joint effect of arts and of 
falsehood, operating on the sympathy of their friends in 
and out of congress, they at length succeeded in raising up 
a faction in that body and out of it, bitterly opposed to 
and resentful against him. Hence the result of the elec- 
tions in congress which have just been mentioned; for as 
several persons were nominated, this faction, by joining 
their numbers to the vote for any other candidate than 
Mr. Lee, defeated his election. 

He. had long discovered the means taken by the dis- 
honest agents of the public in Europe, to traduce and in- 
jure him in America. He had been well aware of the 
extent and strength of the connexions of some of them 
in congress, and bad contemplated the possible success 
of their efforts to produce an unfavourable impression 
concerning him on the minds of its members. But a 
fearless. and disinterested zeal for the interests of his 
country, a consciousness of his fidelity to her cause, and 
of an honest performance of every duty in her service, 
rendered him proof against their assaults. He confid- 
ed in the virtue of his countrymen for a just and grate- 
ful estimate of his labours and patriotism. He did not 
underrate their virtues, as the sequel of this memoir will 

Mr. Lee continued during the period of two years, not- 
withstanding the malevolence of the public defaulters, 
and the injuries they were continually inflicting on his 
feelings and character by their misrepresentations, to pur- 
sue, detect, and denounce them. He acquainted con- 
gress with their peculations, and pledged himself to make 
good his charges against them. Upon his arrival in Ame*- 
rica he redeemed the pledge he had made to congress, 
and ftfoved to their convictioD»and to the satisfactiofi of the 

156 LIFE OF 

country^ the d efalcations of many of the public agents. He 
broke down the hostile faction, and triumphed over its ma- 
chinations. During the whole of this contest Mr. Lee re- 
tained the unabated confidence and friendship of the most 
undoubted and distinguished patriots of that day. The two 
Adamses, Lovel, Dana and Gerry, of Massachusetts; Liv- 
ingston, Morris, &c. of New-York ; Dickenson, M'Kean, 
Wilson, Rush, of Pennsylvania; Johnson and Chase, oif 
Maryland ; Henry, Pendleton, the Pages, Bland, Wythe, 
Monroe, of Virginia ; Laurens and the Rutledges, oif 
Carolina, were all the firm friends and admirers of Arthur 

It has been mentioned that the enemies of Mr. Lee 
endeavoured to infuse into the minds of the French min- 
istry a suspicion that Mr. Lee was not heartily attached 
to the cause of his country. They alleged as proof that 
he had many friends in England, and that Dr. Berkenhout 
had been known to correspond with him. The reader 
has seen the purport of the correspondence between 
that person and Mr. Lee, as well as that of his corre- 
spondence with the French minister respecting Hartley's 
mission to France. While an effort was made to render 
Mr. Lee^s fidelity questionable in the minds of Vergennes, 
Neckar, Montbarey and others, it was positively as- 
serted in America that he had lost the confidence of the 
French court, and was personally obnoxious to its min- 
istry. The scanty selections in this memoir from the 
confidential correspondence between the members of the 
ministry just named and Mr. Lee, as one of the commis- 
sioners, and particularly as agent for his native state, reach- 
ing through the whole term of his residence in France, 
sufficiently refutes these falsehoods. The assertions of 
his enemies in America, that Mr. Lee was not trusted by 
the French court and was suspected by his own, had been 
made in some of the public prints in the United States^ 
and sent to France. John Adams, who had succeeded 
Silas Deane in the commission to France, and had acted 
for more than a year with Mr. Lee, had become entirely 
convinced of the utter want of truth in the insinuations 
and charges made against him, and of the ability and 
integrity with which he had served his country. As soon 


as the printed charges against him reached France Mr- 
Adams, without Mr. Lee's knowledge, with that ingenu- 
ousness, promptitude, and honesty of purpose, which 
so strongly characterized him, addressed the following 
letter to Count Vergennes, 

"PAssr,Feb. llth, 1779. 

Sir, — ^As your excellency reads English perfectly 
well, my first request is that you would do me the favour 
to read this without a translation ; after which I submit 
it to your excellency to make what use of it you may 
think proper. 

I have hitherto avoided in my single capacity giving 
your excellency any trouble by letter or conversation ; 
but the present emergency demands that I should ask 
the favour to explain "my sentiments, either by letter or 
in person. If you will permit a personal interview, I 
am persuaded I could make myself understood. If you 
prefer a correspondence I will lay open my heart before 
your excellency. 

It is the address to the people in America under the 
name of Mr. Silas Deane that has occasioned this bold- 
ness in me. It is to me the most unexpected and un- 
foreseen event that has happened. I hope your excel- 
lency will not conclude from this that I despair of the 
commonwealth. Far otherwise ; I know that the body 
of the United States stands immoveable against Great 
Britain ; and- 1 hope this address of Mr. Deane, though 
it may occasion trouble to individuals, will produce no 
final detriment to the common cause ; but, on the con- 
trary, will occasion so thorough an investigation of the 
several things, as will correct many abuses. 

It is my indispensable duty upon this occasion, to in- 
form your excellency without consulting either of my 
colleagues, that the honourable Arthur Lee was as long 
ago as 1770 appointed by the house of representatives of 
the Massachusetts Bay, of which I had then the honour 
to be a member, their agent at the court of London, in 
case of the death or absence of Dr. Franklin. TIms ho- 
nourable testimony was given to Mr. Lee, by an assem- 

160 LIFE OF 

But I hope I need not inform you that my opinion on 
this point is no secret at Versailles, at Nantz, or else- 
where. I enclose a copy of a letter, I did myself the 
honour to. write to the Count de Vergennes some time 
ago, which, for any thing I know, is communicated to all 
the court, .The answer shows it was received. I had 
my reasions then for keeping it to myself, which exist no 
more. I would transcribe the whole correspondence, if 
it were in my power, but I have not time. It is suffi- 
cient to say, that it was conducted by his excellency 
with the most obliging politeness. It is my duty now 
to furnish you with a copy, lest any accident should be- 
fall me, which is by no means improbable. I thought 
then, and am now confirmed in that opinion more and 
more, that it was my duty to communicate my senti- 
ments to the court upon that very extraordinary occa- 
sion ; and from regard to my own reputation, I am glad 
you have given me an opportunity of furnishing you with 
evidence, that I did that part of my duty, so far forth. The 
letter was written, sent to Versailles, and received by his 
excellency, before the arrival of the Marquis de la Fay- 
ette, his aid de camp, or Dr. , that is before the 

news reached Passy, of the new arrangement. 

But lest the letter should not be sufficient, I shall en- 
close another certificate, not without a heartfelt grief 
and indignation, that malice should be so daring and bar- 
barous, as to make either such a letter or such a certifi- 
cate from me necessary or even pardonable. Your hint, 
that I must correct some things that are amiss, extorts 
from me an involuntary sigh ! I shall be in a situation, 
critical and difficult without example ; my own character 
at stake from various quarters, and nothing to support me 
but truth and innocence; and yow need not be informed, 
these are not always sufficient. I have little expectiation 
of doing good : God grant I may do no harm. I shall 
not designedly. But I suppose congress mean to exam- 
ine me as a witness, and I must tell the truth, the whole 
truth, and nothing but the truth, so far as I know it. — 
If the task should end here, I shall not be much embar- 
rassed, but if they proceed to demand of me opinions and 


judgment of men and things, as there is reason to expect 
they will) although I hope they will not, what will be the 
consequence ? 

Upon the whole, truth must be my shield, and if the 
shafts of interested malice can pierce through this, they 
shall pierce me. 

I have the honour to be, with the highest respect, dear 
sir, your obedient servant, 

John Adams. 

To the Han. Arthur Lee.^^ 

It has been said that Mr. Lee had resolved to incur 
that enmity and opposition of public defaulters and their 
friends, both in France and in the United States, which 
he knew would follow a fearless performance of his duty. 
Two of his letters, written at different periods, one ad- 
dressed to the corresponding committee of congress, and 
the other to a friend in Virginia, will exhibit sufficiently 
for the present purpose of his biographer, the conduct of 
of those whom he had offended, in the course of his offi- 
cial duties. The letter to the committee will be found 
in Mr. Lee's cctfrespondence with congress, in the 6th 
No. of the Appendix, dated 1st June 1778. His letter 
to his friend in Virginia is Jiere inserted. Both letters 
contain much more agreeable matter than that which re-* 
iates to the immediate subject here referred to. 

<* Paris, Dec. 13th, 1776. 

To Theodoric Bland, Esq. 

My dear friend, — On the 9th of this month I received 
yours of the 1 9th July. If a Mr. Archer gets safely to 
America you will receive a letter by him which will 
prove that you live not only in my memory but in my 
warmest friendship. It gives me the greatest pleasure 
to find that, notwithstanding the long absence and in- 
terval of our correspondence we harmonize in the same 
wish to renew it. 

1 should have been very much surprised if either you 
or I had rested in retirement while the cause ojf liberty 
and oar country was in issue. We have acted exactly 

voi*. -I. 21 

1 62 LIFE OF 

conformable to the principles we always avowed and 
actually felt. For myself there never was a moment 
since I could distinguish between good and bad, that I 
would not have stood forth in opposition to arbitrary 
power, whatever shape it assumed. I believe the same 
of you ; and the similarity of our sentiments have knit 
mfe to you, with an esteem that can never vary. 

I observe that of the misfortunes that have happened 
to our troops, nine out of ten have arisen from want of 
vigilance. I am the more surprised at this because I be- 
lieve there never was a soldier of more circumspection 
than your commander in chief. It seems the fate of 
poor Col. Baylor and his troops was owing to his being 
surprized. This, I hope, is the last mishap that will 
befal you. Some foreign officers who have returned 
speak highly of the discipline of your army, and the 
enemy seem to have no superiority to boast of. Even at 
London they despair of any. conquest, and are for deso- 
lating out of revenge what they can neither conquer nor 

I see by the public prints with you that my quondam 
colleague is assuming all the merit of « what has been 
done here, and I know is forming a faction against your 
friend. I should never have opened my lips on this sub- 
ject,* did not their assuming merits which they do not de- 
serve, make it an act of duty tg state the facts. So far 
then were my colleagues from having any peculiar merits 
in the treaties, that it was with the greatest difficulty I 
persuaded them to insist on the acknowledgment of our 
independence and recognition of our sovereignty. These 
were proposed by your friend, evaded by bis colleagues,, 
and only admitted after being re-urged in a manner that 
made them apprehend the consequences of an opposition 
they could not justify. It was also in spite of the opin- 
^ ion, reasonings and even remonstrances of your friend, 
- that they would insert two articles of the treaty which 
were unanimously condemned by congress, and have been 
expunged here. After this one would imagine they 
might have been contented with an equal share of praise, 
when in truth their conduct merited censure. They will 
force me one day or other to bring the proofs of these 


things before congress and the public, when I am sure 
they will shed some of their borrowed plumes. 

I look forward with hope to the time when a peace- 
able establish mentof what we are contending for, will 
permit us to retire to the private walks we have been 
forced to quit. To the enemies who have risen up 
against me personally, it seems my place is an object of 
envy. I tell you, my friend, I have experienced more 
cares and anxieties in two years' occupation of it than in 
all my life besides. You may theriefore guess that when 
the public shall think my services no longer necessary I 
shall not repine at being dismissed. But it is not a little 
unpleasant to be deprived of that praise that constant toil 
and assiduity in the public service have deserved, and 
submit to be traduced by those who, mstead of consulting 
the public interest when in office, have made immense 
private fortunes for themselves and their dependants; 
who are occupied in two things only, their own gain 
and the abuse of every one who will not sacrifice the 
public to their views. Mr. — :— is generally under- 
stood to have made £60,000 while he was employed 
here, and Dr. Bancroft his clerk, from being penniless, 

keeps his , his house, and his carriage. Mr. 

from being a clerk in a sugar-bake house in London, is 
become a capital merchant here, loading a number of 
ships on his own account, while gentlemen of the first 
fortunes in America cannot get remittances on credit for 
their subsistence. These things are notorious, and 
there are no visible sources of this prosperity, but the 
public money, and state secrets to trade upon. It may 
be useful to you to know these things as they concern 
th^ public. My opposition to these proceedings have 
made all that are concerned in them my bitter enemies. 
I am afraid the objection of religion is an insur- 
mountable bar to your scheme of putting your nephew in 
the French navy. I know it was so to the admission of 
my nephew into the Ecole militaire here. . But I will 
make particular enquiry and let you know. Remember 
me to our common friends, and believe me to be with 
sincerest friendship, yours, &c. . 

Arthur Lee." 

164 LIFE OF 

Mr. Lee having determined to return to the United 
States, sailed from France in the month of August 1780, 
and arrived in Boston in the iponth of September. He 
was received with most flattering marks of respect ^nd 
gratitude by the people of Massachusetts and with the 
warmest greetings of his friends in Boston. He had 
the gratification of finding around him on all occasions 
the most distinguished and approved whigs. During his 
stay in Boston,, though that was short' and his time con- 
tinually occupied by {niblic and private invitations, he 
wrote a long and earnest letter to the Baron de Breteuil 
one of the most influential members of the French min- 
istry, pressing upon .him the necessity to the common 
cause of aiding the United States with a loan of specie ; 
thus continuing to exhibit at all' times a ceaseless anxiety 
for the public interest, and to make exertions for its ad- 
vancement, the motives of which cannot be impeached 
with a desire of gaining applause, since they were made 
in private modes altogether secluded from the public eye. 
The letter to the Baron de Breteuil will be found in the 
Appendix, No. 8. 

After remaining a short time in Boston, Mr. Lee pro* 
ceeded to Philadelphia. On every part of his journey, 
thither he was honoured by the purest patriots of the 
day, and by popular applause. From Boston he carried 
with him letters of introduction from eminent men, dis- 
tinguished for their public services and for their learn- 
ing to men of similar distinction in the different states 
through which he passed. Among his MSS. of this de- 
scription, the author has found several letters from Dr. 
Cooper, a distinguished scholar and divine. As these 
letters were written by eminent 8>nd disinterested .men, 
at a time when Mr. Lee had been attacked in the pub- 
lic journals of the time, by a faction containing some 
persons who had been regarded as patriotic, they are 
more valuable than ordinary letters on common occasions^ 
because they show the estimate formed of his character 
and services by them. With this view of their value 
some of them are here inserted with a hope that they 
will thus be preserved. The author has selected from 


the letters of the description mentioned one of the pat- 
riot Elbridge Gerry, and the letters of Dr. Cooper, 
which are remarkable for their elegance of style and 
felicitous variation in the expression of similar ideas and 

** Boston, Sept. !^1, 1780. 

Sir, — This will be delivered to you by the Hon. Mr. 
Lee, who has lately arrived here from France in the Alli- 
ance frigate, and purposes to set off this morning to the 
southward. During his short stay in this city he has 
confirmed such of the principal inhabitants of this state 
as have had the pleasure of his acquaintance, in their 
opinion of his zeal, integrity, and abilities in the. common 
cause ; and they have endeavoured to show him every 
mark of their esteem and respect. But as your excellen- 
cy's knowledge of this gentleman's character renders it 
needless to speak of his merit, I shall only add, that he 
will be able to give every useful information respecting 
the state of our foreign affairs, and many useful hints of 
measures necessary to be adopted by the states. 

I have the honour to be sir, with the highest esteem 
and respect your most obedient and humble servant, 

E. Gerry. 

His exctUfincy George ClinUm.^^ 

<< Boston, Sept. 19th, 1780. 

My Dear Sir, — ^This will be delivered to you by the 
Hon. Arthur Lee, who lately arrived here from France, 
and is now going to Philadelphia. 

I need not mention to you the political or literary ac- 
complishments of this gentleman, by which he ha^^ attract* 
ed such esteem in Europe as well as in America ; the 
early and decided part he took in favour of our liberties ; 
his important public employments ; or the zeal and firm- 
ness with which he has served the United States. To 
these things you are no stranger. But the opportunity of 
knowing a gentleman of whose distinguished reputation 
you were before acquainted, and of paying any offices of 
friendship to such a friend of our country, must be highly 
pleasing to you. 

166 LIFE OF 

I am sir, with much respect aud affection, jour obedi- 
ent servant, Samuel Cooper* 
The Rev. Mr. EUiot.^^ 

" BoflTOir, Sept. 19, 1780. 

My Dear Sir, — ^You will receive this from the hand of 
the Hon. Arthur Lee, who lately arrived here from France, 
and will pass through New-Haven on his way to Phila- 
delphia. To one so well acquainted with those great 
characters who have stood forth in the American cause, 
and whose distinguished political and literary abilities 
have defended and advanced it, I need only mention the 
name of Dr. Lee. You know all the rest ; and how much 
our country is indebted to the uncommon services of this 
gentleman. Should he find an opportunity, it will give 
him great pleasure to visit that seat of learning over 
which you so honourably preside. 

Wishing it prosperity, and the most brilliant success to 
all your exertions for the promotion of knowledge and 
virtue, I am sir, with much respect and affection, your 
most obedient humble servant, Samuel Cooper. 

The Rev. Dr. StiUs.^^* ' 

<' Boston, Sept. 19, 178a 

My Dear Sir, — The Hon. Arthur Lee, who not long 
since arrived here from France, will probably pass through 
Middletown on his way to Philadelphia. 

The bare mention of this gentleman's name must im- 
mediately recall to your mind his steady patriotism, his 
important public employmentis, and the long series of ser- 
vices which from the commencement of our troubles his 
distinguished literary and political abilities have rendered 
to the cause of America. 

You will be highly pleased, I am persuaded, with an 
opportunity of conversing with this gentleman, and of 
rendering any ofiSces of friendship to such a friend of our 

Wishing you and your family all good things, I am dear 

* The venerable PresideDt at this time of Yale College ; one of the profoiindert 
aeholan and writen of any conntiy. 


sir, with great respect and friendship, your humble ser- 
vant, Samuel Cooper.* 
The Rev. Mr. Huntington. '^^ 

As soon as Mn ]^ee arrived in Philadelphia he request- 
ed of congress permission to address that body, in vindi- 
cation of his character and conduct from the charges 
vt^hich had been publicly made against him, and which 
derived, as he thought, some weight or appearance of 
credibility from the fact that he had been left out of the 
late missions to Europe. The congress resolved that no 
charge against him had been entertained by them, and 
that it was never intended to fix the least censure on any 
part of his public conduct, t The author has in his posses- 
sion, in the handwriting of Mr. Lee, an able and elab6rate 
speech which he prepared with a view to deliver it before 
congress. He meets all the criminations of his enemies, 
(of the nature of which the reader has some idea) and con- 
futes them by irresistible arguments, and ample and au- 
thenticated proofs of their falsehood. He had prepared 
the evidence in an arrangement suited to that of the 
speech. This evidence consists of documentary testi- 
mony. Wherever the least doubt could be entertained of 
the genuineness of the copy, he has procured the attesta- 
tion of disinterested and well known persons. -The 
greater number are examined and attested by John Ad- 
ams. This speech, and the documents attached to it, 
are not deposited with the other papers of Mr. Lee in the 
library of Cambridge Uijiversity, but are carefully preserv- 
ed by the author. The many subsequent and honourable 
testimonials given by the congress and the public to the 
patriotism and integrity of Mr. Lee, render it unnecessa- 

* The above letters, and the characters to whom they were addfesaed, afibrd a 
pleasing evidence of what is generally known, that the Christi&n ministers of An>e- 
rtca in the revolutionary time were ardent patriots and decidedly and ilniveraally 
friends to civil and rdi^ions freedom. The author, who is honoured with an exten- 
sive and intimate friencuhip with many of all denominations, can testify how ground- 
leas are the charge and the fears (generally the oflspring of ignorance and wicked- 
ness combined) expressed by men of the world, and particularly by a certain class 
of politicians so called, that the Christian clergy are aiming at temporal power, and 
are attached to arbitrary systems. 

f See Journals 6th, p. 246. 

168 LIFE OF 

IT to insert here this speech and its accompanying papers. 
The author however cannot refrain from inserting the 
exordium of the speech, as it contains a grateful tribute 
of homage from an American patriot (who had enjoyed 
an opportunity of knowing from pers4)nal observation the 
truth of what he said) to the character of our ally of the 
revolution, the generous, the amiable, and the unfortu-* 
nate Louis, of France. The speech begins with a coti- 
ciseness and energy, worthy of the occasion and subject 
which the author was contemplating. Quintilian would 
have selected it as a model. 

" Mr. President, — I return to you, in consequence of the 
resolution with which I engaged in this cause, to see the 
liberty of my country established, or to perish in her last 

When I took leave of the court of Versailles as one of 
your former commissioners, his excellency the Count de 
Vergennes presented me with a gold enamelled snuff-box, 
containing the picture of the king of France, set with 
diamonds. The minister accompanied it with an assur^ 
ance that he delivered it to me as a mark of the esteem 
of his sovereign. In my judgment no period ever produc- 
ed a prince whose esteem was more valuable. His por- 
trait is engraven on my mind by the virtue and justice 
which form his character ; -and gold and jewels can add 
nothing to its lustre. 

This testimony of his majesty ^s esteem, however flat- 
tering to me, I received with a jresolution of holding it 
at your disposal only. I therefore now beg leave, agree- 
ably to what I think my duty, to deposite it with congress; 
for I esteem it' of dangerous consequence, that any re- 
publican should receive presents from a foreign prince, 
or retain them without the knowledge or consent of the 
republic* Still more dangerous and unbecoming is it to 
measure the merits of those employed in the. public ser- 
vice by them, or to make their characters depend on com- 

* It 18 highly probable that this saiitiiiient of Mr. Lee was adopted into Aai arti- 
cle of the present constitution of the United States, which prohibits an AnMcioan 
citizen boldag aa office, firom accepting titles or presqnta from foreign princes. 




plimentary letters and praises from the followers of the 
' court where they have resided. It is the most sure of all 
possible methods, to make them subservient where they 
ought to be independent, and lead them to substitute in* 
trigue in the place of a due discharge of their duty, or 
sacrifice the interests of their country to the inclinations 
of a foreign minister. If they do their duty to their 
country, their constituents ought best to know it ; and 
the reward they are pleased to bestow upon them, is the 
sole and sufficient recompense becoming the dignity of a 
free citizen to possess.'' 

Mr. Lee, instead of being called by congress to vindi- 
cate himself from the charges which had been so falsely 
and undeservedly made upon him, was requested by a 
yote of that body, to lay before them all the information 
he possessed, respecting the foreign affairs of the United 
States. This vote was made known to him in a respect- 
ful letter from the president. It may be proper to state 
that Mr. Lee accounted, to the satisfaction of congress, 
and of the state of Virginia, for all sums of money which 
had been received or loaned by him, for the public service. 

Mr. Lee now returned to private life. He was not 
long permitted to remain in ,its quiet and soothing scenes 
and enjoyments. In the spring of the year '8 1 he was 
elected by the freeholders of Prince William County, in 
his native state, a delegate to the assembly of Virginia.* 
By this assembly he was elected, in December of that 
year, a deputy to the general congress. In .this illus- 
trious body, he served from February '82, until the year 
'85. During this period, he served throughout its long 
sessions, with punctuality and diligence. It is believed that 
he seldom took part in the debates ; but he acted with 
ability and efSciency on most of its important committees. 
Whenever he did address the house, his speeches were 
clear and argumentative ; vigorous in their style, and full 
of philosophic reflections and useful information. 

* This was not the county of his nativity or residence ; but he was eligible* be- 
ing a landholder in it. A resident of Virginia, being a freeholder ia any comityy 
vraa eligible to repieaeot it, though not an inhabitaat of it 

VOL. 1. 22 

170 LIFE OF 

Before the reader is made acquainted with the last ser- 
vices of Mr. Lee as a public man, the author begs per- 
mission to refer in this place to a subject, which he has 
in another part of this memoir promised to recur to* It 
has been stated, that Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee had 
been, for several years of their acquaintance and service 
together as public men, attached to each other by the 
ties of a friendship, cemented by mutual admiration, con- 
genial political sentiments and views, and by scientific 
taste and acquirements, but had become estranged from 
each other to the regret of their common friends* The 
cause of this requires some explanation, because many 
references to this circumstance are contained in the wri- 
tings of Mr. Lee which could not be omitted, and be- 
cause the reader will find such men as Sir Wm. Jones 
regretting the separation of these citizens. 

The separation between Mr. Lee and Dr. Franklin 
was caused by the insidious acts of those public agents, 
whose unfaithfulness Mr. Lee had been impelled by a 
sense of duty to expose. Some of them had been ac- 
quainted with Dr. Franklin in America, and had enjoyed 
his confidence, which they then deserved. Dr. Franklin 
was by nature, of an easy and confiding disposition ; and 
age had added to this inherent indisposition to doubt and 
contention. At the time of his going to France, he had 
attained an advanced age. The reader will remember 
that be declined the mission to Spain, to which he had 
been appointed by congress shortly after his arrival in 
France, ^^ on account of his infirmities." He was now 
therefore indisposed to action, and to those duteis the 
performance of which required activity and vigilance. 
The immunities and privileges of age were cheerfully ex- 
tended to him by his younger colleagues. Hence the 
fr^tuds and irregular proceedings of agents, who did not 
act immediately under his eye, were not so soon descried, 
nor so clearly seen by him as by Mr. Lee, whose vigour' 
and health, yet unimpaired by years, permitted him to 
undertake the more minute and laborious duties of the 
commission, and whose active habits led him through a 
more enlarged sphere of action and investigation. The 


charges of Mr. Lee were denied ; and his suspicions, 
which afterwards were proved to be weli-foundedy were 
declared to Dr. Franklin to be the suspicions of a petu- 
lant /ind unamiable temper. He permitted his mind to 
be affected by these representations ; and being disinclin- 
ed to laborious examinations of accounts, and to a scru- 
tiny into the conduct of others, which would necessarily 
offend them, and thus ruffle the ^^ even tenor of his way," 
he at length lent a doubtJTui ear to Mr. Lee, while he 
turned a willing one to those, whose object and policy 
induced them to wish to avoid the control of his ener- 
getic colleague. His kind and unsuspecting dispositioti 
was imposed upon and deceived. He became cold and 
distant in his manners towards Mr. Lee ; and gave a de- 
gree of countenance to defaulting agents, which proved 
injurious to the public interests. Mr. Lee resented this 
conduct on the part of Dr. Franklin, and openly and 
fearlessly stated its consequences to the United States. 
A rupture at last took place ; and their broken friendship 
was never repaired. 

In the year 1784, while Mr. Lee still remained in 
congress, he was appointed by that body one of a com- 
mission to make treaties with all the tribes of Indians on 
the northern and north-western frontiers of the United 
States. He kept a regular journal of his travels from 
Philadelphia to the lakes and Fort Stanwix, through the 
western part of Pennsylvania. He examined the coun- 
try through which he passed with the eye of a statesman 
and a philosopher. He traces the course of its rivers, 
and their possible connexions ; and describes the various 
soils, productions and minerals, which his time and duties 
permitted him to ascertain. 

He turned his acute and active mind, at this time, very 
earnestly to the study of the origin, languages, customs 
and character of the aboriginal inhabitants of North Ame- 
rica. To aid his investigation of this interesting subjel^ty 
he obtained the acquaintance and correspondence of sev* 
eral learned Moravian scholars at Betlehem and Leditz, 
in Pennsylvania, who had at a very early period of the 
settlement of that state, been sent by the pious and be- 

178 LIFE OF 

nevolent sect of christians, to which they belonged, as 
missionaries among the Indians* From one of those ex- 
cellent men, he obtained a learned essay on the origin, 
customs, religion and language of the Algonquin and Iro- 
quois races. This learned Moravian, who bad long and 
profoundly studied these subjects, bad been convinced, 
particularly by the similarity of languages, in their roots 
especially, that our Indians are descendants of the lost 
tribes of the Jews, whose ancestors at some remote pe- 
riod he supposed, had crossed over the Straits of Behr- 
ing from Asia.* Some additional interest was imparted 
to this journey of Mr. Lee, by the presence of our 
national favourite and friend, Lafayette, who, with his 
characteristic zeal for our country, accompanied the com- 
missioners, to assist them by the influence of his name, 
in conciliating their red brothers. The reader will find 
in the Appendix, No. 9, a letter on this subject from La- 
fayette, and Mr- Lee's answer. 

Mr. Lee remained at Fort Stanwix during an entire 
winter, amid the intense cold of that region. Early in 
the ensuing spring he commenced friendly ^' talks" with 
the Indians, and concluded treaties with most of the 
hostile or undecided tribes. He has left many of his 
speeches made on these occasions, which are happily 
adapted to the character of their minds, in the simplicity, 
energy and conciseness of their style. His services were 
highly satisfactory to congress and to the country.f 

On the return of Mr. Lee to his seat in congress he 
was appointed to one of the most important and con- 
fidential posts in their disposal — ^a seat at the board of 
treasury. The financial, affairs of the United States had 
become complex and confused. Congress, by an ordi- 
nance passed in May 1784 put the department of fin- 
ance into commission. The commission, consisting of 
three persons, was styled ^ the Board of Treasury."! 
.Every reader who has attended to the fiscal concerns of 

* Whoever reads with attention the aiSconnt of Long's Expedition, will find this 
opinion strongly conoborated. 

t Only a part of Mr. Lee*s Joamal has be«D preserved. EztractB from it will 
be found in the Appendix, No. II. 

t See Jownalsy vol. ix. p. 265. 


the " Old Confederation," will readily comprehend the 
importance and the difficulties of the duties and opera- 
tions of this board. Mr. Lee served in the capacity of 
a commissioner of the board of treasury, from the year 
1784 to 1789, with the diligence and efficiency which 
bad distinguished him in every previous public employ- 
ment. In the year 1787 a committee vvas appointed by 
congress to consider what offices in the civil department 
had become unnecessary. Upon the report of this com- 
mittee it was resolved unanimously ^^ that Samuel Os- 
good, Walter Livingston and Arthur Lee, commissioners 
of the board of treasury, appointed in pursuance of an 
ordinance of congress, passed May 28th, 1784, for putting 
the department of finance into commission, with all the 
powers and* duties appertaining to the said board of com- 
missioners be, and the same are hereby continued to the 
10th November 1 789."* During the continuance of Mr. 
Lee at the board of treasury, he was appointed in Oc- 
tober 1786, by a joint ballot of the senate and house 
of delegates of Virginia one of a commission to revise 
the laws of that commonwealth. He aided greatly the 
labours of those with whom he was associated in 
this important task. In November 1 789, the board of 
treasury was dissolved by force, of the resolution of 
September 1787. Mr. Lee then retired to private life. 
But the situation of the affairs of the country did not 
permit his mind to abstract its attention and anxieties 
from them. The plan of the present federal constitution 
about this time occupied the intense consideration of 
politicians, and excited the hopes and fears of the people 
of the United States. Mr. Lee performed the part of 
a wise citizen, and deeply and solemnly investigated the 
theory, principles and provisions of this celebrated in- 
strument. He viewed it with jealousy, and in common 
with many of the ablest patriots of that day, considered 
it as the basis of a consolidated government. He op- 
posed its adoption. His opposition to it however was 
not the result of prejudice, nor inconsideration. He in- 
vestigated it with csdmness, and with an honest desire to 

* Joiini. zii. p. 142. 

174 LIFE OF 

Teach a just conclusion on a subject of the highest im- 
portance to a citizen, and of lively interest to a friend of 
human rights and of the liberty of mankind* 

Although the conclusion of his reflections was adverse 
to the constitution in its original form^ it is known that 
his dislike to the federal constitution greatly abated if it 
were not entirely removed, by the amendments he lived 
to see adopted. 

One of the most abundant sources of enjoyment 
which contributed to his pleasures in private life, was his 
correspondence with his political, literary and scientific 
friends in America and Europe. Among these were 
many distinguished men in England, Burke, Barre, Wind- 
ham, the Marquis of Lansdowne, Sir William Jones, and 
the Earl of Buchan, in Scotland ; on the continent, the 
Marquis of Rosignan, Baron de Breteuil, Count de Mous- 
teir, Abbes D'Arnou and Raynal, the Duke of Rochefou- 
cault, and other persons of literary and political eminence. 
He enjoyed the correspondence of most of the distin- 
guished men of the United States. The correspondence 
of such men soothed his spirits and cheered and relieved 
the disquietudes, anxieties, and labours of iiis political 
career, and imparted rich enjoyments to the pleasures of 
private life. With many of them he continued to corres- 
pond until his death, and received the frequent and grate- 
ful assurance of their respect and friendship.* In the 
9th and 1 0th Nos. of the Appendix, the reader will find 
the letters of many of the most eminent men of their 
day, which time and accident have left. An interest- 
ing letter in which Mr. Lee renewed his correspond- 
ence with the Marquis of Lansdowne, after peace be- 
tween the two nations had removed the seeming impro- 
priety of intimate intercourse, is here inserted. 

<< Philadelphia, July 23d, 1783L 

To the Earl of Shelburne. 

My Lord, — A^^ng the blessings of peace I number 
that of being able to renew my correspondence with a 

* The remainiiig lettera of Mr. Lee to his AmeriMn and foreigii ooirespondenti 
are found in No. 8» Appendix. 



Bobleman I so much respect and esteem. For that peace^ 
honourable to America, and as much so in my judgment 
for England as the actual situation of things could give 
any colour of reason to expect, your country and Ame* 
rica are indebted to your lordship^s wisdom and firmness* 

Upon my word, my lord, did I not know so much of 
the politics of St. James' and St. Stephens', I should be 
lost in wonder at the vote in the house of commons 
and the treatment your lordship has received. But I 
shall never forget Lord Chatham's expression, ^ I was 
duped and deceived.' The outrageous wickedness of vis- 
iting upon your conclusion of the war, the evils which 
the folly of its commencement, and the rapacity, cruelty 
and profusion of the conduct of it produced, sprung from 
the same source with the deception practised upon Lord 
Chatham, which he so emphatically detailed in the house 
of peers. 

I always judged that the author of those measures, 
who cannot be said to cover himself with the majesty of 
darkness^ though he meant the subjugation of America, 
would in fact conduct her to independence. I judged, 
too, that he would in the end, bring himself to ruin. 
Nothing, surely, can more accelerate this event, than in- 
troducing again into high office the ostensible minister of 
those pernicious measures. For as to his whig colleagues, 
their reign is short ; and their fall will assuredly be un- 

Of the people of England, on whom in fact the sal- 
vation of their country depends, it may be said, that '^ a/- 
iquando redit in prcscardia viV^tw." They have given 
some proofs of this ; and perhaps the last one will bring 
due punishment upon the author of their near approach 
to humiliation and ruin ; an humiliation and ruin which, 
had not your lordship interposed, would at this moment 
have been consummated. 

I have flattered myself that your lordship has felt 
some anxiety about my situation, under the various at- 
tacks that have been made upon me. They all origin- 
ated with the minister, whose politics so much overshot 
themselves in the late negotiation for peace, and who 

176 LIFfi OF 

was determined on my removal, as one who could not 
be bent to his purposes. He found, however, my succes- 
sor as stubborn ; and this country owes immortal grati- 
tude to that gentleman's firmness, spirit and integrity. 
Yet an attempt was made to sacrifice him, for this 
very service ; and I had the pleasure of defending him 
against those men, with whom he cooperated in effecting 
my removal. I am now elected into congress, for the 
third and last year I am capable of sitting there, by the 
confederation. I shall then retire into private life, with 
the satisfaction of dwelling under that constitution which 
I have laboured to assist in rearing to liberty, virtue and 
public happiness. 

But I am afraid politicians have been too sanguine in 
their expectations from systems of government. Corrup- 
tion and intrigue seem inseparable from them all ; and 
these are promoted or restrained more by the genius of 
the people, than by forms of government, or the operation 
of laws. Indeed it does not seem so unwise novoj as it 
once did, in Mr. Pope, to say, 

'* For fonns of government let fools contest ; 
That which is best administer'd, is best*' 

Nor would I promise that a little more experience will 
not make me a convert to his opinions. 

You used to say, my lord, that you would send Lord 
Fitzmaurice to make the tour of America. Such a tour, 
I conceive, would be both interesting and instructive. 
Nature has displayed her powers in the sublime and 
beautiful far more in America than in Europe, and the 
progress of art, considering the time it has had to operate, 
is astonishing. I shall next year be at liberty to accom- 
pany Lord Fitzmaurice in such a tour, and should take a 
vast deal of pleasure in doing it. 

I have the honour to be, with profound respect and re- 
gard, your obedient servant, Arthur Lee." 

The homage of scientific and literary men added a 
charm to all other pleasures Mr. Lee had the happiness 
to enjoy. They regarded him as shedding as much lus- 


tre on the intellectual and literary character of his coun- 
try, as his genius and patriotism had reflected upon its po- 
litical history. At different times after his return to 
America, various literary honours were bestowed upon 
him. The degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by 
the university of Cambridge ; and he was constituted a 
member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 
He was also elected an honorary member of the American 
Philosophical Society. The following letter from James 
Bowdoin, once governor of Massachusetts, (in honour of 
whom a flourishing and respectable college in Maine is 
called) acquaints Mr. Lee of the two diplomas first men- 

^ BosToir» Jan. 31st, 1782. 

Dear Sir, — I have the pleasure to acquaint you that at 
a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 
you were yesterday elected by an unanimous vote a 
Fellow of the Academy. You will give me leave to con- 
gratulate that society on the accession of so valuable a 

I communicated to them, at the next meeting after 1 
received it, the letter you some time ago favoured me 
with, relative to the progress and effects of lightning up- 
on a house in Philadelphia. They were much pleased 
with it, and would be glad to be favoured with other com-r 

I have the pleasure also tJ inform you that the corpo- 
ration of our university at Cambridge has conferred on 
you the degree of LL.D. ; and a diploma will be sent 
you the first opportunity. 

The letter i wrote you last February or March, en- 
closed in one to Mr. President Huntington, it does not 
appear you have received. I imagine it miscarried, and 
has probably found its w,ay to New- York ; several mails 
having been taken and carried thither about that time. 
The military gentry there, by encouraging the filching of 
mails, have been themselves taken in. Some of the in- 
tercepted letters, written with a design to fall into their 
hands, corroborated by corresponding manoeuvres of th§ 

VOL. I. 23 

178 LIFE OF 

allied army, hare totally deceived them as to the object 
of its operations. Hence the capture of CornwalliSi 
and the happy consequences we may expect from thai 
important event ; so important that you will not think it 
out of time even now to congratulate you upon it, which 
I do most fervently ; and am with sincere esteem dear 
sir, your most obedient humble servant, 

James Bowdoin. 

The ladies and Mr. Temple who iirrived here last fall^ 
present their most respectful compliments to you. 
The Hon. Arthur Lee?^ 

Shortly after Mr. Lee received the letter of Mr. Bow- 
doin, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Willard, the learned president 
of Cambridge University, and corresponding secretary 
of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, by the direction of 
these institutions informed Mr. Lee that the degrees just 
mentioned had been bestowed upon him by the universi- 
ty and academy. To the letter of the president he re- 
turned this answer. ' 

^ Pbi&adex.fbia» April 90th, 1782. 

Reverend Sir, — I had yesterday the honour of receiving 
from the hand of the Rev. Dr. Elliot, your very obliging let- 
ter of the 28th ult., together with a diploma for an hono- 
rary Doctorate of Laws from the university over which 
you preside with so much deserved reputation. 

I beg sir, you will be assured, and that you will as- 
sure the visiters and fellows of the university, that I 
have the highest sense of the. honour they have confer- 
red upon me. Laudari a laudatis viris would be flatter- 
ing to a person infinitely less deserving of praise than I 
can possibly think myself. It was with peculiar pleasure 
I read a diploma, conceived in language pure and elegant 
enough to have flowed from an ancient pen. 

Liberty and letters sir, are so inseparably connected, 
that a lover of the one cannot but see with sincere satis- 
faction the cultivation and prosperity of the other* It is 
to the light which literature had difiiised that we owe 
the assertion of our liberties, and to the continuance of 


the same we must owe their establishment and perma- 
neiiGjr. The eminent share which the university of Cam- 
bridge had in diffusing these salutary lights, by her ex- 
ample and instructions, has made her proportionally re- 
spected ; and a perseverance in the same course will ren- 
der her an honour and blessing to these United States. 
For an institution of such utility it is patriotism to pray, 
esto perpelucu 

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences hath 
done me great honour in admitting me into their society, 
instituted for the best of purposes by gentlemen capable 
of fulfilling them. I entreat you sir, to lay before them 
the due sense I have of the favour with which they have 
distinguished me, and to assure them that I shall ever 
be happy in contributing every thing within the compass 
of my poor abilities, to promote the valuable object of the 

Do me the favour sir, of accepting my thanks for the 
very polite and obliging manner in which you have signi- 
fied the proceedings of the university and of the acade- 
my, and my best wishes for your health and prosperity. 

I have the honour of being, reverend sir, with the ut- 
most respect and esteem, your obedient servant, 

Arthur Lee. 

To the Rev. Joseph WUlardj President of the 

UniversUy of Cambridge^ and Secretary of the 

American Academy of Arts and Sciences.^^ 

The following letter contains the homage of an Ame- 
rican scholar and historian.* 

" Sir, — By Col. Lee I do myself the honour of present- 
ingto you my academical exercise. 

The liberty of prefixing your tiame will I trust be ex- 
cused, when we reflect with what ardour writers of eve- 
ry denomination search for particular personages, whose 
names are most calculated to give dignity to their per- 
formances, or credit to themselves. 

* Dr. Ramaj. 

180 LIFE OF 

To secure these advantages I sought a character whose 
public offices had equalled bis private merits ; and in ob- 
taining this object I have had recourse to the reports of 
the best established medical society in Edinburgh, where 
your name stands sir, as an illustrious monument of your 
professional claims ; and in the more extensive field of 
public merit none so justly attracted my attention as 
yours, independent of the emotions of gratitude for the 
singular^ services rendered my nearest conne:(ion when so 
much needing the hand of friendship as the unfortunate 
situation of Dr. Boush required, when in France. 

The work in itself scarcely merits your attention. 
The printer has added many errors to bad language ; 
some of which are corrected, others not ; but if it receive 
your acceptance it will amply compensate every incon* 
venience my feelings have sustained from its imperfec- 

With the sincerest wishes for your health and happi- 
ness, I am your obedient humble servant, 

James Ramsat. 

The Hon. Arthur Lee. 

Norfolk, July 16tb, 1788." 

At the expiration of the period during which the fin- 
ancial department of the confederation had been contin- 
ued in commission by the resolution of September 1707, 
Mr. Lee finally retired from public life. 

He had long sighed for the peaceful pleasures and the 
quiet, though active employments of agricultural life. 
He contemplated with pleasing anticipations, the oppor- 
tunity he would enjoy of applying his mind to the im- 
provement of the science and practice of agriculture in 
his native state. He had not been inattentive to their 
progress in England, and in many parts of Europe 
through which he had travelled.* 

With a view to gratify his feelings and his taste for 
rural occupations and pleasures, he purchased a farm in 
the county of Middlesex, .and resided near a village 

* While Mr. Lee rended in London be was made a memlber of the Society of 
Alts and Agricnltore. 



called Urbtoa, on the banks of the River Rappahainnoc, 
in Virginia. Here he had hoped to exhibit a useful ex- 
ample of industry and of successful husbandry. His taste 
had devised many plans to ornament the grounds around 
his mansion, to please the eye of the guest who should 
enjoy its simple, but elegant and cordial hospitality. In 
assisting to execute a part of his intended improvements, 
he was beguiled into a forgetfulness of the danger of ex- 
posure in an unhealthy season of the year. He assist- 
ed with his own hands in planting out an orchard of select 
fruits, during a cold and rainy day in the month of De- 
cember. He was seized by a violent pleurisy, which 
baffling his skill, and that of his physician, proved fatal. 
He died on the 12th of December, in the year of Him, 
who is << the resurrection and the life," 1792, in the 
fifty-second year of his age. 

The death of Mr. Lee caused a considerable sensation 
throughout the United States. An extensive circle of re- 
lations and friends who had loved him for his virtues no 
less than they had admired him for his genius and ac- 
quirements, sincerely mourned at this event. The ablest 
and purest patriots of the revolution who survived him, 
deeply sighed; and deplored the loss of one of themselves ! 

Genius, science and literature, offered to his memory 
tributes of their respect and veneration. They have 
long since performed a part of the office of his biog- 
rapher ; and have concisely and justly thus portrayed 
his public character, " The scholar, the writer, the phi- 
losopher, smd negotiator.''* 

Mr. Lee was well entitled to the character of a schol- 
ar. Throughout his life he read with ease the most dif- 
ficult authors in the Greek and Latin tongues. He spoke 
and wrote not only correctly, but with force and elegance, 
the French, Spanish and Italian languages. He was 
perfectly familiar with the finest writers, in prose and 
verse, of ancient Greece and Rome, and of modern Italy, 
of Spain and France, and quoted from them with readi- 
ness and felicity. 

* See AmincaQ Quurterlj R«vi6^, vol, u. Article, <* American Biogmpby." 


Of his style as a writer, men of taste and literattte 
had formed a flattering opinion ; the reader can form hb 
own judgment from his writings. 

He was not only a scholar, but a man of learning. 
His attainments in physical science were various, exten- 
sive and profound. 

He was a thoroughly read physician ; a learned coun- 
sellor, and an eloquent and ingenious advocate. 

He was a profound politician, and a skilful diplomatist. 
To what merit he was entitled, and to what fame be had[ 
attained in these characters, the reader has learned from 
the attestations of his contemporaries. He can form his 
own judgment of their truth and justice. 

The history of the private life of Mr. Lee does not al- 
low to his biographer the pleasing duty of presenting him 
as an example of matrimonial and parental tenderness. 
Mr. Lee never married. This circumstance was al- 
ways a source of regret to himself, and of surprise to 
bis friends ; for he was a person of great sensibility, and 
of an ardent and affectionate disposition. He was an 
enthusiastic admirer of the female sex ; and was always a 
favourite with them. In one of his journals he thus states 
the reasons why he had never enjoyed the sympathies of 
married life. ^^ With my sentiments of love and mar- 
riage, I am not likely to find a wife. An Emma, an 
Eloise, or a Constantia, would alone answer the high, 
enthusiastic ideas I possess of wedded love. I am afraid 
I should regard any one, unactuated by their ardent and 
absolute sentiments of love, as a house- keeper ; not as the 
wife of my bosom, from whose glowing tenderness love 
would ^ light his constant lamp,' ^ would reign and rev* 
el.' I am convmced that love is the most cordial drop 
that heaven has poured into the cup of man. But as it 
is precious, it is rare. I have seen ladies whom I sin- 
cerely loved ; but the tempest of my fortune bore me 
from them before I had time to know their real disposi- 
tions, or woo them * to approve my pleaded reason ;' 
for they were like Eve, < endued with a conscience of 
their worth,' that would be wooed, and not unsought be 





called Urbtoa, on the banks of the River Rappahalnnoc, 
in Virginia. Here he had hoped to exhibit a useful ex- 
ample of industry and of successful husbandry. His taste 
had devised many plans to ornament the grounds around 
his mansion, to please the eye of the guest who should 
enjoy its simple, but elegant and cordial hospitality. In 
assisting to execute a part of his intended improvements, 
he was beguiled into a forgetfulness of the danger of ex- 
posure in an unhealthy season of the year. He assist- 
ed with his own hands in planting out an orchard of select 
fruits, during a cold and rainy day in the month of De- 
cember. He was seized by a violent pleurisy, which 
baffling his skill, and that of his physician, proved fatal. 
He died on the 12th of December, in the year of Him, 
who is ^* the resurrection and the life," 1792, in the 
fifty-second year of his age. 

The death of Mr. Lee caused a considerable sensation 
throughout the United States. An extensive circle of re- 
lations and friends who had loved him for his virtues no 
less than they had admired him for his genius and ac- 
quirements, sincerely mourned at this event. The ablest 
and purest patriots of the revolution who survived him, 
deeply sighed ; and deplored the loss of one of themselves ! 

Genius, science and literature, offered to his memory 
tributes of their respect and veneration. They have 
long since performed a part of the office of his biog- 
rapher; and have concisely and justly thus portrayed 
his public character, " The scholar, the writer, the phi- 
losopher, send negotiator.''* 

Mr. Lee was well entitled to the character of a schol- 
ar. Throughout his life he read with ease the most dif- 
ficult authors in the Greek and Latin tongues. He spoke 
and wrote not only correctly, but with force and elegance, 
the French, Spanish and Italian languages. He was 
perfectly familiar with the finest writers, in prose and 
verse, of ancient Greece and Rome, and of modern Italy, 
of Spain and France, and quoted from them with readi- 
ness and felicity. 

See AuMrican Qoarterijr R«vie^» vol. iL Article, ** American Biography. 







Early letters of Arthar Lee, written principally from the year 1767 to his departure 
from London in 1776, on British and American politics daring that period. j - ,k •'' * -^ 

" London, , 17€7. - ^ ^ -^ 

Though my dear brother's solicitude about my not fre- 
quently and freely writing to him is exceedingly pleasin 
to me, as it shows me he values my love as highly as 
prize his, yet I cannot acquiesce in the justice of his 
complaint. For considering the great attention due to 
the study in which I am now engaged, and the many 
friends to whom I am bound to write, great indulgence 
should be granted to me, both in point of the frequency 
and length of my letters.* Neither indeed does the state 
of things furnish matter for much writing. The little 
detail of politics is too despicable to slander even your 
leisure hours with ; and there is no probability of any 
change in men or measures with us. 

You will see by the last resolution of the bill of rights, 
which I desired our brother to send you, what hope we 
entertain, and what plan we have adopted to obtain a 
redress of grievances. You will know the author by 
the style. If the people cannot be roused to take some 
effectual measures at the next general election, ^< actum 
est de libertate.^^ Mrs. McCauley has written to me, ap- 

* Mr. A. Lee was' at this time a student of law. He became a conspicnoofl and 
mccem^ advoeate, and was in habits of intimacy with Dunning and Glynn, and was 
often engaged in cases with them. He had studied medicine in Edinburgh, and gradu- 
ated wiu the botanical prize. 

. VOL. I. 24 

186 LIFE OF 

proving highly of the proceedings of the bill of rights. I 
am under some apprehension of having lost the patron- 
age of Lord Shelburne and CoL Barre, by the part i 
have taken in the proceedings. Their tools conducted the 
attempt to dissolve the society, and destroy Mr. Wilkes, 
whether by their particular direction I do not know. But 
as I voted against them, and as their failure has totally 
sacrificed the popularity of Lord Shelburne, it is not 
improbable that he will consider me as a partisan 
against him, and therefore Hot entitled to his favour. 
They are both abroad at present; when they return, 
your presents shall be delivered. But, whatever may 
happen, I shall be satisfied with having acted honestly. 
The public cause, and particularly that of America, which 
induced me to engage in the society, was the mover of 
my conduct. Townshend is an opinionated, over-grown 
. school-boy ; Home is ^ malevolent, vain, petulent, impu- 
dent priest. The former, in his conceit and folly, thought 
he could lead the city ; the other, in his vanity and knav- 
ery, conceived that his abilities were equal toTownshend's 
ambition, and that he should be rewarded. The event 
has shown how weak their judgment was^and how im- 
potent their endeavours were when separated from those 
who gave them weight and importance with the people. 
They never appear in public without being hissed; and 
at a late meeting of the livery, there were but five who 
voted for recommending Mr. Townshend to the common 
hall, as lord mayor for the ensuing year. Lord Shelburne 
suffers for all their follies, and has therefore lost his popu- 
larity in the city. Expecting redress only from the peo- 
ple, I am determined to stand with them, however my 
particular interest might advise a different course. You 
know by experience how little profit and how much ob- 
loquy attends such a principle ; but you know too, how 
much satisfaction springs from a conviction of its recti- 
tude. The present lord mayor and alderman Bridges 
will be returned by the livery ; and if the aldermen choose 
Bridges, he will constitute the other his locum tenens ; so 
that popular councils will still prevail in the city. Crosby 
is a plain, determined man, who coprts no great man, and 


looks to the people for approbation and support. He will 
be returned next year with Wilkes, so that the aldermen 
will have little to choose between them, and the liberties 
of the city will be upheld. I am much obliged to you 
for your present, duck and brandy. She appears very 
disconsolate without a mate.. The partridges were by 
mismanagement letjoose at sea, and perished in the 

The chief political object in Europe at present is Rus- 
sia, unless a cession of what she has conquered should 
procure the Turk an ignominious peace. The revolt of 
Egypt will probably oblige the Ottoman to sheathe the 
Russian sword at any price. Whether the encouraging 
of so tremendous a power, and especially the promoting 
of the Zarina's wish of establishing a large, disciplined, 
and formidable navy, be sound policy in us, to me is 
doubtful. We may be cherishing a serpent, which will 
strike us to the heart. 1 do not think it in the least pro- 
bable that any change will take place in the administra- 
tion, unless in consequence of a war. That is an event 
which the endeavours of the present men, seconded by 
the disturbances and inability of France, will place at a 
great distance. The present men do the king's business 
better than any others he could find ; why then should 
he change them P Most assuredly it must be the neces- 
sity of the last extremity which will move him to admit 
a single man of virtue within the circle of his throne. 
An impeaching parliament might be a more effectual 
remedy than a war ; but there is still less expectation 
of this than bf that. The lords Chatham and Shelbume 
will then only come in, when it is necessary to cultivate 
the people, to support a war, or to soothe the rage of an 
impeaching house of commons, &c. &c. 

Very melancholy, my dear brother, is the prospect of 
our affairs, and little apparent hope that any attention 
will be paid to the just rights of America. The present 
ministry, arbitrary and anti-American as they are, have 
for their opponents men who for the most part are des- 

* Sfir. A. Lee ww maku^g a collection of the aatiual prodactions, fcc» of Ame- 

188 LIFE OF 

potic in their views, and who found their opposition upon 
the inefficacious and pusillanimous lenity of the present 
proceedings against the colonies. [ As the views of the 
court are unquestionably despotic on the American ques- 
tion, it is sure that those who talk in the most absolute 
style are the most agreeable. \ Temple and Grenville are 
the men I mean, with my lord Egremont, whose princi- 
ples are as inconsistent with liberty as fire with water. 
The present administration is weak, because they acted 
as oppressors; but should this new set come in, being re- 
garded as patriots, they will have the stronger support in 
subverting the constitution of America. 

So circumstanced here, the cause of American liberty 
would be desperate indeed, if it find not a firm support in 
the virtuous and determined resolution of the people of 
America. This is our last, our surest hope, this is our 
trust and refuge. To encourage and invigorate this spirit 
must be the constant endeavourof every patriot, si patrim 
volumuSy si nobis vivere cari. , 

The Rockingham party have refused to take lead in 
obtaining the repeal of the duty acts. The merchants 
are very averse to present any petition to parliament for 
that purpose, because it is disagreeable to the ministry. 
Possibly they may be stirred up before the hol ydays are 
over. They do not feel enough. My lord Sbeiburne 
an? his adherents are the wisest and soundest supporters 
of America ; but I doubt whether they will be willing to 
take the le^d. In a few days I go to lord Sbelburne's 
country seat by express invitation, to spend some time ; 
while there, 1 hope to animate him to a more vigor- 
ous advocation of our cause. The house of lords have 
passed several resolves, very violent against all the pro- 
ceedings at Boston, and voted an address to his majesty 
against the treasonable practices suspected there, and to 
bring the authors of them over here for trial. The justice 
of this they found on a statute of Henry seventh, which 
by a resolve of the house they extend to America. I will 
not anticipate your reflections on this proceeding* They 
were sent down to the commons, and their concurrence 
desired ; but they have deferred the consideration of 


them until after the holydays. To pave the way for 
these measures, a very partial presentment of papers was 
made to the house by the ministry ; all the incendiary 
letters of Governor Bernard, with the most trifling oc- 
currences of the " sons of liberty," down t6 their drink- 
ing the health of Paoli and the Corsicans ; but the par- 
agon of impudence and malevolence was a letter from 
the commissioners at Boston, full of misrepresentations 
and invective. Nothing was read on the other side, but 
the Boston petition ; and this will be forever the treat- 
ment of Americans here ; from whence therefore they 
are to expect neither justice nor favour. The public 
liberty here has gained a signal victory over court despot- 
ism, in the election of sergeant Glynn, Wilkes's friend 
and advocate, for this county, against all the influence of 
Beauchamp Proctor, with an hired mob, bribery and min- 
isterial influence. The party of Mr. Wilkes is strong in 
the house of commons. His having published the letter 
you will receive with this, prefaced by some strong anir 
madversions on the detestable intention of its authors, 
has increased the hatred of the ministry to absolute rage ; 
in consequence of which they procured a vote in the 
house of lords, branding it as a seditious and inflamma- 
tory libel, with a conference to invite the concurrence of 
the commons; but this they could not obtain, and there- 
fore they adjourned the question until after the holydays, 
* when it will b^ abandoned. Then too, a petition he has 
presented, praying to be permitted to prosecute Philip 
Carteret Webb, guilty of bribery and perjury, with the 
public money, and to have the lords Sandwich and March 
examined touching the matter, is ordered to be heard. 
The commons sent a messa,ge to the lords, desiring that 
those peers might attend in their house, which was voted 
a breach of privilege. The conference was held, but the 
commons were firm, and the two lords were permitted 
to attend. I have dined with Wilkes, in the King's 
bench. He speaks very warmly of America, and highly 
applauds their proceedings. The Farmer's letters are 
much read here, but to little purpose, though universally 
admirecT, an3 no answer attempted. They continue of 

190 I.IFE OF 

the same opiniqa, without a single reason for it, and con- 
tinue in obstinacy what they began in ignorance. Lord 
Hillsborough told me he was both greatly pleased and 
informed by them, but he wished Mr. Dickinson had ac- 
commodated his reasoning to the necessity of a supreme 
power. I observed that Mr. Locke had executed that 
with great perspicuity. This lord is affable and plausi- 
ble ; has a routine of argument which he U3es to every 
one, and on all occasions, without giving time for an an- 
swer. He appears to me to be extremely shallow, and 
he is detested in Ireland for his arbitrary principles. I 
send you with this a number of the North Briton, con- 
taining Wilkes's letter, the Public Advertiser, and two 
pamphlets concerning America. I have written on-, 
ly two pieces published in the Gazetteer, giving an ac- 
count of the proceedings at Boston, with some remarks 
on them. One of them is reprinted in the Gentleman's 
lifagazine for Nove^mbec,_ I am meditating two pam- 
phlets,' under the titles of an Address to the Merchants, 
and a Summary of the Arguments on both sides of the 
American Question.. Whether I shall finish them I can- 
not determine. The load of prejudice seems almost im- 
movable, and pours despair on all our attempts to bring 
this country to reason. 

My best love attend you all ; — my cordial good wishes 
await the friends of liberty and their transactions, i Once 
more let me remind you that no confidence is to be re- 
posed in the justice or mercy of Great Britain ; and that 
American liberty must be entirely of American fabric.) 

Adieu, my dear brother. Arthur Lee." 

« Ipswich, Sept. 18, 1769. 

My Dear Brother, — I have received all your favours, 
but none with more pleasure than that of the 16th July, 
which assures me of your having recovered from the ef- 
fects of that terrible fall. God grant that it may be the 
last bitter drop in your bitter cup, and that your future life 
may be one uninterrupted stream of happiness. 

Your letter, &c. I myself presented to lord Shelbume, 
at hb own house, where I lately spent a week with hun. 
He desires me to return his thanks for them. Grenville 



has had the art of turning the present opposition to an in- 
famous administration somewhat to his advantage ; and 
by uniting with Chatham, Temple and Rockingham, is 
aiming at a resumption of that power which he so much 
misused. With but small abilities, he has much art, so 
that no man has more influence in the house of commons. 
He is endowed with a perseverance in the pursuit of 
power never to be overcome, and capable of using any 
artifice,*and submitting to any meanness that may pro- 
mote his ambitious purposes. Upheld by these supports, 
nothing prevents his promotion but the unfeigned piety 

of the i with whom revenge is virtue. The affront 

given by him to a certain lady in the regency bill, occa- 
sioned his dismission, and will in all probability be an 
insurmountable bar to his ambition. So far is her vice 
a virtue, operating the good of the nation in the gratifi- 
cation of her malice. Should the complaints of the peo- 
ple prevail on the king to dismiss his present ministers^ 
most probably lord Chatham will be applied to for the 
formation of a new administration. Here then will be 
a struggle of lord Chatham (as he has certainly united 
with Grenville), should he insist on his admission. That 
the dowager's enmity would prevail over lord Chatham's 
influence is beyond a question ; but policy may induce 
her to dissemble (a virtue not yet banished from St. 
James'), and Grenville be admitted. Whether Lord 
Shelburne will find a place, or accept one, I cannot 
venture to conjecture. I think his virtues and abili- 
ties will force him into power, whether soon or among 
the present abandoned crew, I cannot determine. Be 
this as it may, I think he is the only one attached to 
us from principle ; from policy there are many against 
opposing us ; as Lord Chatham, Richmond, and Ivock- 
ingham. Temple and Grenville are our determined foes; 
but whether they will not think it policy to let our rights 
remain unquestioned, is doubtful. As I perceived it was _ 
likely they would come in, if at all, on popular grounds, I 
have laboured much to make the cause of America pop- 
ular, in which if I have been assisted by the American 
agents, I have not the least doubt of having succeeded. 

192 LIFE OF 

But the only duty an American agent has to do, is to 
make a very formal and humble visit to White Hall, with 
any paper his assembly sends him. He leaves it to the 
pleasure of the minister, and thinks his duty is done* 
'Tis not all who will do even this paltry service ; and Mr. 
Abercrombie has not condescended to take the least 
notice of the order of council for co-operating with the 

*- agent. What reason has America to expect anything 
farther, when by far the greater number of bet agents 
are unknown here, of no abilities, no rank, or if of 
any, of a bad character ; some of them menials, all of 

_^them servile expectants. Mr. Jennings intended the 
picture he sent you as a present, and is therefore offend- 
ed that it is mentioned publicly as a purchase with the 
subscription money which is still in his hands. As there 
is no probability of getting Lord Camden to sit, I could 
wish the subscribers to be prevailed on to order Lord 
Shelburne's to be sent, ingratitude for his having divided 
the lords in favour of their rights. He I think will have 
no objection to gratifying us, for his principles remain 
unaltered. You will see our agent on the most infamous 
list of voters for Colonels Lutterel and Brentford, than 
which nothing can more demonstrate his servile depend- 
ance on administration ; when applied to he refused to 
draw up for the tobacco merchants a petition against the 
revenue acts, on a pretence that as they had not treated 
him with respect he would not have any thing to do with 
them. But his vote will explain his refusal. Should this 
conduct have any influence in Virginia to his prejudice, 
as I think in truth it ought, I need not tell you I should 
be happy to serve in his place. If Mr. Nicholas would 

' join you, one would imagine the point would be carried. 
It would certainly enable me to get into parliament, and 
by that method promote the interest not only of Virginia 
but of all America. Had I been in this character a year 
ago, I could have made the cause of America the cause 
of Middlesex, for they are in truth the same. As no- 
thing is more in my wish than this cause, I should like to 
have my inclinations seconded by my situation, which as 
agent of the assembly would be certainly effected. 
Your's affectionately, Arthur Lee.'' 


<< Bow WooBi December 3d, 1769. 

Dear Brother,— I wrote to you lately, and probably 
the same conveyance will bring you this letter. It is 
with much pleasure I can assure you that Lords Shel- 
bume, Chatham, and Camden are determined to write 
once more in supporting the cause of America against 
the present weak and wicked administration. I am at 
present at Lord Shelburne's in the country, and you may 
depend on what I say concerning our friends. Every 
day makes our cause more popular, and I think the min- 
istry will find the opposition too strong to attempt any 
forcible measure ; and you well know how little their 
artifices will avail them. I have endeavoured by mixing 
popular subjects here with that of America to bring the 
signature of Junius Americanus into estimation, and by 
that means to gain a m^ easy ear to the discussion of 
American grievances. I am in hopes of succeeding. 
Colonel Barr6 is of opinion that America stands on ex- 
cellent ground, and need not be in the least apprehensive 
of what her enemies can do. I have just heard from our. 
brother William that the election has been patriotic, and 

that has met with the contempt and detestation he 

merits. My heart is at ease, and I trust we must be 
free. I think myself much honoured by the name of 
Virginia, and feel infinite gratitude to the people at large 
for the noble spirit with which they have resisted all the 
attempts of art, and honoured the cause of liberty. 

I do not know any thing which would gratify my 
wishes more than the agency of Virginia. I should de- 
vote myself with iso much cordiality to its duties, and 
obey with so much joy the commands of a spirited people 
asserting their rights. 

Farewell, and believe me as I am ever, yours affection- 
ately, Arthur Lee.'' 

« Bath, November 9th, 1760. 

My Dear Brother, — Col. Barr6 is just arrived here, 
and informs me that Governor Bernard is to be before 
the king and council, agreeable to the Massachusetts pe- 

VOL. I. 25 

194 LIFfi OF 

titioD, with a view to deceive the world into a belief of 
his innocence, not to make any enquiry into his guilt. 
"With this view only six days notice is given to the agent 
to summon his witnesses three thousand miles distant. 
The wickedness of this administration can be equalled 
only by its weakness. For must it not be most egre- 
gious to expect the world will be deceived by so infa- 
*^ ^' mous an artifice. The agent has delivered a petition to 
*> ' the council for a delay ; whether that will succeed I 
i: ,\' know not, but it will render their injustice more glaring. 
' He is an upright, spirited, and independent old man, 

and therefore most obnoxious to Lord H gh^ who has 

jnade some mean attempts to injure him. The ministry 
have so aiSronted the Duke of Rutland as to make him 
resign. It is expected the Marquis of Granby will fol- 
low him. 'Tis well they are so rash, as abler men in 
these times of corruption might endanger our liberties. 
I find my health better than when with you. I pray 
heaven to guard you. 

Yours. Adieu. Arthur Lee." 

« August 15, 1769. 

My dear brother^s favours all reached me in due time 
at Bristol Wells, where I was spending the summer 
season, to look about me, and form acquaintances which 
may be useful hereafter. The ensuing winter I mean to 
spend in Bath, where I now am ; a place to which Dr. 
Fothergill advised me, and where I expect his patronage. 
Your packet for Lord Shelburne I shall deliver myself in 
a few days, at his country seat about twenty miles off, 
where I am to spend a week. I have not been in Lon- 
don since Johnston's arrival, and as Dr. Fothergill is 
probably in the country, I reserve your letter to him also 
to deliver myself, as I shall be in town soon. 

My last letter from our brother F. of the 14th June, made 
me exceedingly unhappy, as it brought an account of the 
dreadful accident which befel you about that time. I 
flatter myself that long before you receive this you will 
have received entire relief from the effects of that mis- 
fortune ; and I cannot now help chiding you for being so 


very careless of a life on which the happiness of so many 
depend ; the horses were notoriously vicious, and the 
dastardly temper of the negroes you well know. How 
then could you trust yourself so absolutely in their power 
as to injure yourself and aflSict us P for heaven's sake 
remember that you are accountable to your country and 
to those who love you for your personal safety, which 
cannot be injured without very great detriment and dis- 
quietude to them. Heaven shield you from such disas- 
ters for the future, and grant you for the great share of 
misery you have already suffered, an uninterrupted series 
of prosperity and health. I may now I hope congratu- 
late you on your marriage with Mrs. Pinkard ; the small 
acquaintance I had with her gives me great reason to 
believe she will make you happy ; and I most ardently 
. pray that her goodness may prevent both you and the 
poor little ones who survive, from feeling the loss of the 
tender and amiable wife and mother that is gone. 

The resolutions into wMch you have entered, and 
which I perceive South Carolina has adopted, are in the 
highest degree laudable, and you may depend upon it^ 
will work your salvation. The ministry thinking it vain 
to contend against such Virtue as they are now convinced 
animates America, are at present certainly disposed to 
conciliatory measures. But they are far from being yet 
brought to a due sense of what in justice they owe to 
the constitutional rights of the colonies. You have com- 
menced those measures which tend to their conviction, 
and I make no question you will persevere till that im- 
portant purpose is fully accomplished. The intent of the 
monitors I sent you being entirely fulfilled, I do not ask 
what you did with those I sent you, though I have seen 
nothing of them in the papers. The state of politics at 
present is as appears to me exceedingly complex. As 
ikv as I can unravel them, they consist of the court par- 
ty, the opposition, and the constitutionalists. The lords 
Holland and Bute, the Dukes of Bedford and Grafton, 
form the court party ; lords Temple, Chatham and Mr. 
Grenville, with Rockingham, compose the of^osition ; 
and my lord Shelburne heads the constitutionalists. The 

196 LIFE OF 

last party are the promoters of petitions, as the most 
proper method of informing the people of the constitu- 
tional power they possess, and of rousing them against 
the arbitrary measures of the court. The opposition, 
desirous of changing men only, and not measures, are 
for determining the matter by the representative body 
by intrigue and influence. The constitutionalists are for 
appealing to the people at large, and effecting a change 
of measures as well as of men. Mr. Wilkes and all of 
his party that are honest, with Beckford, Townshend, 
Sawbridge, Mrs. McCauley, &c. are what I call constitu- 
tionalists. Of the political writers Junius only deserves 
reading, and his talents are certainly great. I cannot but 
think that my lord Shelburne's abilities and virtue will 
force him again into power; though they render him 
exceedingly unwelcome at court, where such qualities 
are not in estimation. Happily for the liberties of this 
country, the court party are at variance among them- 
selves ; could they agree, I #0 not see what would pre- 
vent them, with a corrupt hotase of commons, vast influ- 
ence from places and money, with a powerful army, from 
absolutely subverting the constitution. But Bute pos- 
sesses the year, Bedford the parliamentary power ; Graf- 
ton was the representative of the former, but the latter, 
ever jealous and ambitious, has contrived to gain the 
duke over by marriage. This in all human probability 
was the cause of lord Bute's precipitate return, being 
alarmed lest in consequence of that connexion Grafton 
should betray him, and uniting with Bedford, enable him 
to do what he has long wished ; exclude his lordship 
from influence in administration. When Peacham and 
Locket quarrel, they bring each other nearly to the gal- 
lows. Would to heaven these political villains may be 
more irreconcilable in their anger. I am now at my 
lord Shelburne's, where I have the pleasure of seeing 
perfect domestic happiness. Lady Shelburne is a pattern 
of every thing that is amiable and good ; and her lord 
seems perfectly worthy of so valuable a wife. Much 
reading has produced in me the effect of age, in which 
confidence in political professions is slowly granted ; and 


therefore highly as I esteem this lord, I do not implicitly 
confide in him. Yet if he does not support the genuine 
cause of liberty, and continue firm in constitutional prin- 
ciples, I do not believe there is a single man of eminence 
who will vindicate the violated rights of the people. A 
temporary support many will give, but an oppositipn 
grounded on true principles, and steadily pursued, I ex- 
pect from him only. God send he may answer my ex- 
pectations ; if not aeium est de libertate. I am not so des-^ 
perate with regard to America ; the spirit of liberty seems 
now so truly and universally diffused, that I do not think 
it possible to suppress it ; and therefore I look forward 
with infinite pleasure to that spirit as the surest nurse of 
British constitutional liberty. I some time since sent 
enclosed to Mr. Parker and you the proceeding respect- 
ing the Mississippi company. Nothing certain is to be 
expected from this ministry : when it is changed I shall 
not fail to resume the solicitations. I beg you will give 
my most cordial thanks to all those of my acquaintance 
who have distinguished themselves in the resolution of 
not consuming British manufactures, and of maintaining 
firmly their constitutional rights. As a friend to freedom, 
I esteem myself infinitely obliged to every one who sup- 
ports it. 

My inviolable regard awaits you and yours. Adieu. 

Arthur Lee. 

P. S. Pray remember me to our brother Thomas ; I 
never hear of or from him, which I very much regret. 
My best wishes attend Belvieu." 

" Bath, Novembef 15, 1769. 

My Dear Brother, — It appears to me a very long time 
since I had the pleasure of hearing from you. In the 
mean time I please myself with supposing that you, with 
the rest of America,, are working your own salvation by 
. frugality and industry. Pertinent to this are your questions 
to our brother William concerning the glass manufactory ; 
in which, I am sorry to inform you, no satisfactory infor- 
mation can be obtained. Much care is taken at Bristol 

198 LIFE OF 

to provide against the loss of workmen ; they are there- 
fore articled for a certain time, and their wages artfully 
advanced, so as to keep them constantly in arrear, and 
thence in bondage. A very few only are entrusted with 
the secret of the materials, and their proportions. I 
wrote to a merchant of Bristol, immediately on my broth- 
er's receiving yours, for more precise information ; but he 
has never answered me, probably through some jealousy 
in himself, or an apprehension of it in others. Newcas- 
tle would be the best place I apprehend, not only to make 
enquiries without suspicion, but to apply for workmen* 
The people here do not yet complain much of the want of 
trade arising from the stoppage of American exports ; but, 
by persevering, they will feel, and then will infallibly 
complain. What the ministry will do in the perturbed 
state of the empire, both at home and abroad, it is diffi- 
cult to say ; what they wish to do is more easily imagin- 
ed. Great certainly is the struggle between their arbi- 
trary inclinations, and their fears to execute them. 

The Mississippi affair rests entirely, and must do so 
till the ministry are removed ; whenever that happens 
the company may be assured that I will resume the busi- 
ness without any farther expense to them. Our brother 
William forgot to bring over a minute of the company^s 
resolution appointing me agent ; so that had my creden- 
tials been required nothing could have been done. Hap- 
pily they were not ; but to provide against it for the fu- 
ture, I could wish you and Mr. Parker would send me 
such credentials as you may think proper. Please to re- 
member me to that gentleman, and tell him I hope every 
patriotic scheme succeeds, and that we shall see him in 

the next list of the house of burgesses, in J. R ph's 

place. I. wish things were reversed, and this tool of pow- 
er were his deputy. Your governor is becoming very 
popular as we are told here, and I have the worst proof 
of it in the increased orders for fineries from the ladies, 
at this time of general distress in their families. Either 
our countrywomen are misrepresented by the merchants' 
wives, or they are growing deplorably extravagant* If 


his excellency introduces such a spirit, I am sure his popu- 
larity will be ill-founded. Wilkes' suit with Lord Hali- 
fax is at length determined, with £4000 damages, which 
it was proved in court the treasury was to pay. Inade- 
quate as these would in any case have been, the manner 
in which they are to be paid prevents them from being 
exemplary ; since no minister will be deterred from re- 
peating this injury by a fine which he is not to pay. Our 
bouses, liberties, and most interesting secrets, are thus at 
the mercy of any minister who will pay this sum out of 
the treasury, which, with the present furniture of St. Ste- 
phen's chapel, he njight do to-morrow without danger of 
impeachment. Yet there are many men so wicked or 
so weak as to deny that the constitution is in danger. 
There are men who will never believe their houses are 
near the flames until they are on fire ; so long as they 
walk free they care not who is illegally imprisoned. The 
parliament will probably meet about the middle of Janu- 
ary ; it will be an important session, but I believe attend- 
ed with no farther good than convincing the people their 
complaints are just, and their desire of a dissolution per- 
fectly proper. I am extremely well with Lord S — — e, 
the lord mayor, the sheriffs, Mr. Wilkes, Home, McCau- 
ley, Bellas, &c.; the two first and the last are those only 
of whose principles I have a good opinion ; but I am so 
sensible of my own deficiency in judgment, that while I 
act in the integrity of my heart, I do not suffer my sus- 

£icions to influence my actions. I dine frequently in the 
jng's Bench where I meet the declared patriots, of 
whom I shall be satisfied if we find one Sidney in twelve 
elect. The city of London is however in our possession, 
and will support the character it has always maintained, 
of standing foremost and firm in opposition to arbitrary 
power. It is a chance whether you ever meet with a se- 
ries of letters signed Junius Americanus, in which the 
enemies of America are chiefly attacked ; though to make 
what was written in defence of the colonies acceptable, 
it was necessary to give now and then a stroke to the 
characters obnoxious here. It is desirable to make a sig- 
nature popular ; when that is effected I shall be able to 


write for America under it with success, which it is oth- 
erwise extremely difficult to accomplish. Send copies 
of Parker's edition of the Farmer's Letters to Lord Shel- 
burne, Mrs. McCauley, and Col. Barre. Farewell. 

Arthur Lee." 

" A very ill timed fever, my dear sir, confining me to my 
bed and room for some days past, has for the present 
marred my Mississippi and political operations. Of the 
former therefore, I can say nothing more than what the 
enclosed, written a week since, contains ; of politics lit*^ 
tie certain can be said, for no one yet knows what the 
parliament, which meets to-morrow, will determine. The 
ministry are entirely Bedfordian, neither much in confi- 
dence of the landed or mercantile part of the nation ; but 
they are of Lord Bute's complexion, and have therefore 
the royal ear and protection- Grafton is the premier, 
profligate, arbitrary, and contemptible ; Weymouth, aban- 
doned to gaming and drinking, totally involved, but ex* 
tremely clever; North, Gower, and Bristol, nothing; 
Hillsborough or Pownal, arbitrary, opinionated, subtle, 
and severe: of these the present council are formed, 
without one speaker or advocate in the house of com- 
mons. All parties will, it is prob&ble, be opposed to 
them ; but virtue and real patriotism are so little the ob- 
jects of pursuit to any party, that it is rather a scuffle 
who shall enjoy the power and wreath of office, than who 
shall administer peace and welfare to the nation. This 
being the case the sovereign will always turn the scale, 
since such ministers can never acquire the confidence of 
the nation, so as to be independent of court influence ; 
this makes me apprehend that the present ministry, as 
being certainly that of the favourite, though he be now 
abroad, will stand, and they are to all intents and purpo- 
ses enemies to America. They delude us here with talk- 
ing of conciliating measures, but it is only to try once 
more the effect of art and management in disuniting the 
colonies, while it is evident they are collecting a great 
force at Boston, to crush, as they fondly flatter themselves, 
the head of opposition at one blow ; from the persever- 

ARTHUR L££. 201 

ance of your colony moch is feared, and greatly is it ex- 
pected that the address, powers, and beguiling splendour 
of his excellency, will detach it from the cause of liber- 
ty, obtain a vote subversive of your former resolves, ac- 
knowledging your promptitude to bend the servile kneei 
and fawning take the splendid robber's boon. Severe 
will be the trials but more exemplary therefore the virtue 
that triumphs over it; alas! I fear it will not be found, 
where meanness and servility are already so prevalent 
among the little great people of your colony: yet on the 
issue of this essay must I hereafter glory in being a Vir- 
ginian, or hide my head when it is mentioned. Subtlety 
and arbitrariness being the characteristics of the present 
ministry, great prudence, caution, and management will 
be requisite to frustrate their measures, or elude their re- 
venge- You may be assured, if they stand this session, 
and their present policy succeeds not in America, the first 
step to enforcement will be the seizing and executing 
the patriotic leaders ; in your conduct therefore let me 
recommend an attention to the conduct of the first prince 
of Orange, which saved him from an ignominious death, 
and effectually vindicated the liberties of his countryi 
while the incaution of his associates made them victims 
to the bloody and revengeful purposes of the tyrant they 
opposed. Our first duty is to our country unquestionablyi 
and her dearest right is liberty ; but if this be not the 
sense of the people, if there is no prospect of opposing 
tyrannous measures with success, 'twere better wait the 
favourable ^moment, since once engaged, success, eternal 
enmity, or death, must be the issue. Cato, Brutus, and 
Cassius did not precipitately undertake a hopeless cause, 
but they made a glorious and dreadful struggle, that foil- 
ing, death was the only worthy end of such a beginning. 
O how my soul swells with the great idea! methinks I 
could smile in the very pangs of death, and pity the in- 
sulting tyrant. Should such a trial come, and my weak 
flesh shrink from the nobler purposes of my soul, to what 
contempt would it reduce me. Inured to war and death, 
habit had steeled their bodies, and made them equal to 
the achievement of every daring resolution ; happy had I 
VOL. 1. 26 


202 LIFE OF 

been bred a soldier, or these trying times had not arrived 
in my day. These are reflections which I cannot avoid, 
though they leave stings behind them ; the very doubt oif 
bearing unmoved the utmost efforts of afi9icting povi^er, 
and telling the tyrant or his minion to the last I scorned 
him, is to me grievous. 

I have not sent you the Museum Rusticum, because 
it is certainly too dear for its usefulness ; and another 
publication is daily expected, vi^hich perhaps may be pre- 
ferable. I reserve Tissot till I have leisure to read him, 
and make some annotations for you. There is a book 
sometime since published, called a Handmaid to the Arts, 
which should be useful to you ; if I think so upon exam- 
ining, it shall be sent. The Court Register will be pub- 
lished the 28th of this month, therefore I hardly think it 
worth while to send the old one now. I know of nothing 
else worth your attention. 

"October 9th. The great debate is passed, adminis- 
tration has carried her point, forcing by the sword over 
the colonies those laws which reason and justice cannot 
support or establish. Dreadful idea ; suggested in a 
free house, it ought to have excited indignation and ab- 
horrence. To the king's speech containing an account 
of America being in an alienated state of allegiance and 
submission to law ; and one part, namely Boston, on the 
verge of rebellion through the agency of some seditious 
persons, an address was moved tor by Lord Henly, Lord 
Northington's son, approving the steps which had been 
taken by the king in America, and promising him sup- 
port. This was seconded by Mr. Stanley, who said the 
late acts were intended to bring this contest of right to 
an issue ; that the troops had been drawn together in 
America to enforce it with more facility, and had now 
commenced the operation in Boston. Mr. Dowdswall, 
late chancellor of the exchequer, moved for an amend- 
ment, using milder terms towards the Americans, and 
not expressing any approbation of ministerial measures. 
Lord Clare and Lord North supported the former ; with 
heavy if not unwarrantable charges against the people 
c^ Boston, and high ideas of absolute power. The 


amendment was then supported by Sir G. Senile, but 
not on American principles. Mr. Burke then entered 
more largely and with more masterly eloquence into the 
transactions of Governor Bernard and the administra- 
tion. He showed the present disturbances arose from 
a concerted plan and intentional injuries offered the peo^ 
pie of Boston ; that the right of taxing and the laws 
founded on it were repugnant to the feelings of America, 
which never could be overcome ; he insisted that the re- 
quiring the assembly of Boston to rescind a vote under 
penalty was absolutely illegal and unconstitutional ; that 
sending soldiers there and demanding provision for them 
was directly repugnant to the act of parliament, which 
directs that provision be made by the assembly. Mr. 
Grenville then advised supporting the measures of ad- 
ministration in subduing the colonies^ ; he praised his 
S. A., talked much about himself, and condemned the 
minister's mandate for rescinding as totally illegal. Col. 
Barre next spoke with great judgment upon the ques- 
tion in favour of the amendment; he questioned the 
right, disapproved the measures, and demonstrated that 
they were urging a quarrel with their colonies, from an 
ill-grounded jealousy, when the state of Europe made 
harmony absolutely requisite to our preservation. Mr. 
Wedderburn then pointed out with great justice that gov- 
ernment, both at home and abroad was executed by files 
of musketeers ; that laws were obeyed not from a re- 
spect and confidence in the people' for the legislature and 
government, but from terror^ a dreadful state existed 
by some unhappy defect in the executive part, which 
threatened our ruin ; he declared against the legality of 
the ministerial mandate at Boston. Many others spoke 
on both sides, but the ministry carried it without a di- 
vision. All this I consider as done in heat, and hope 
better information and more dispassionate deliberation 
will produce the conciliating measures of recalling Ber^ 
naid, and repealing the duty acts ; should this not be 
done, I apprehend that the present establishment of the 
military in America will prevent any armed opposition to 
tho measures of administration ; but I conceive the Ame* 

804 LIFE OF 

, ricans will endeavour by those means of not consum* 
J ing British manufactures, which are absolutely in their 
power, to bring this ungrateful country to a better sense 
of their usefulness to her, and how vain the attempt is 
to rule by force a free people. Mr. Burke asserted that 
Chatham and Camden had both acted towards America 
inconsistently with those principles ; which, coming from 
such great authorities, had confirmed the colonists in their 
opinion that parliament had no right to tax them. 

God knows whether this will be suffered to reach you; 
for the administration are determined to sacrifice the 
most active in the American cause, and may probably 
stop letters. 

Yours, &c. Arthur Lee.^' 

<< BmsTOL-WsLLB, August 4th, 1769. 

My dear brother,— -I am sorry you have so much reason 
to complain of my neglect ; for which I must rely on 
your goodness to pardon me. My letters by Johnston 
brought me an account of your marriage ; on which I 
give you and Mrs. Lee joy with all my heart. The 
union which crowns a mutual affection long tried, prom* 
ises the most permanent felicity ; and I hope every suc- 
ceeding moon will find you equally happy with the first. 

I am now the only unhappy or single person of the 
family ; nor have I any prospect of being otherwise. I 
have spent this season at the Bristol Wells in pursuit of 
practice and to make acquaintances, and shall remain the 
winter at Bath with the same views. In the latter it is 
easy to succeed, in the first not quite so easy here as at 
Williamsburg. Perseverance, of which unhappily I have 
very little, is absolutely requisite to accomplish this busi- 
ness. I often feel so home sick that I cannot bear the 
thoughts of living forever from you ; so that if I am not 
very short lived I feel that I must make another trip to 
see you. Contrasted with that of this country, how il- 
lustriously eminent does the patriotic conduct of America 
appear. I had my fears, my anxieties about Virginia, 
but my countrymen have fulfilled my most sanguine 
wishes and acquired an honour which can never be tar- 


nished* Here the spirit of liberty is very languid, and all 
attempts to rouse it meet with little success. Corrup- 
tion has spread its baneful influence so universally, that 
this country seems now to be nearly in that state in 
which Jugurtha found Rom^ when he exclaimed, 

<«0 renalem nrbem, et citd peritnram, si emptorem iaTenies." 

However the utmost endeavours are used to awaken a 
proper resentment of the atrocious injuries which have 
been ojSered to the constitution. And though I believe 
they will obtain petitions enough to awe the ministry, yet 
I do not hope to see all grievances fully redressed, and the 
authors of them brought to condign punishment. With 
respect to us the ministry speak in a conciliating tone, 
but they are so void of all virtue that no credit is due 
to them, especially as their principles are most notorious- 
ly arbitrary. Persevere in the plan of frugality and in- 
dustry, encourage and confirm a spirit never to submit 
or yield, and you will compel them to be just — Iub tibi 
artesy hcec arma ; and may heaven render them inviuci- 
ble. The town of Bristol, which is very near the wells, 
is immersed in the turtle and venison feasting, and there-^ 
fore seems to apprehend little from the revolutions you 
have made ; but they will feel presently, and then I will 
answer for their justice being awakened, and their feel- 
ing how cruel it is to oppress us. We have much com- 
pany here besides invalids, dancing and card playing 
every day, so that the time passes agreeably though idly. 
My Lord Bute having lately arrived from abroad it is 
expected his advice will make some change in adminis- 
tration ; but from so impure a fountain no good can be 
expected. The Mississippi scheme must lie dormant 
till Lord Hillsborough is removed, for he will never suffer 
it to be executed. 

Remember me, my dear brother, affectionately ; be free, 
be happy, and — adieu. A. Lee." 

'< London, May dOth, 1770. 

My dear brother, — ^The parliament being now pro- 
rogued concludes all hopes of any redress of grievances, 

808 LIFE or 

either for America or Great Britain. Several motions 
were a week ago made in the commons, and repeated in 
the lords, by Mr. Burke and the Duke of .Richmond, 
tending to censure all the measures of this administra- 
tion relative to America, especially my Lord Hillsbo- 
rough's rescinding and promising letters. They were 
all rescinded in the lump, by a previous question, on 
which the ministerial majority was three to one. Lord 
Chatham has made two remarkable motions this session, 
one for dissolving the parliament, and one censuring those 
who advised the rejection of the London remonstrance. 
They were fruitless, being rejected by a large majority. 
No ministry ever had less argument, and greater infla* 
ence. In the American debate Lord Hillsborough de- 
clared that all hopes of reconciliation with America were 
vain, unless the whole authority of parliament was given 
up, for that it was the navigation act we were aiming to 
overthrow. Such are the fixed impressions of this dull, 
arbitrary lord, and the prejudices which he and his tools 
labour but too successfully to infuse into others. 

The city of London, unawed by their late rejection, has 
voted a second remonstrance to the throne, in very spir- 
ited terms, which is to be presented next Wednesday. 
Mr. Wilkes sits and acts as alderman with great ap- 

The friends of America here are apprehensive that 
you will not abide by your non-importation agreements, 
on which all prospects of a re-establishment of our in- 
vaded rights depend. I can hardly think that my coun- 
trymen can be so wanting to themselves as to give their 
enemies their wish, and sacrifice for a temporary profit 
or convenience, the liberties of themselves and their pos- 
terity. Adieu. 

Yours, &c. Arthur Lee.'' 

" My Dear Brother, — Lord Hillsborough is out. The 
ostensible cause is that he dissented to the establishment 
of a government where our petition is located. But the 
true reason is that the Bedford party were determined 
to remove him to provide for one of themselves. But 
in this they were disappointed, for lord North threatened 


to resign. They were obliged to soothe him by the ap- 
pointment of his half brother, Lord Dartmouth. Tins 
place was originally promised him, but the king, as his 
custom is, deceived him ; and it is thought rather shabby 
in him to accept of it now. However, he is a man of 
good principles, of a fair character, of exemplary life^ 
and a friend to America. I have no doubt but that as 
far as it depends upon him, which indeed is but little^ 
the colonies will not have much cause to complain. 

There is no opposition now, nor any forming. At the 
meeting of the next parliament the leaders will hope that 
the memory of their former follies may be obliterated, and 
again unite in that opposition which they so shamefully 
abandoned. Nothing is more uncertain than the revolu- 
tions of states, nor can any one form a tolerable conjec- 
ture from the appearances of the political sky. This is 
our only comfort in the midst of a calm which seems to 
resign every thing to the will of a court, which is med- 
itating and executing a systematic destruction of our 
liberties. I expect to be at the bar quite in time for the 
next general election, and to be employed in some con- 
tested election, which is a fair introduction into a valu- 
able branch of the profession, that of pleading before the 
house of commons. Yours, &c. Arthur Lee." 

" London, March 18, 1774. 

Dear Brother, — The afiairs of America are now be- 
come very serious ; the minority are determined to put 
your spirit to the proof. Boston is their first object. On 
Monday the 14th, it was ordered in the house of com- 
mons that leave be given to bring in a bill, ^ for the im- 
mediate removal of the ofiGicers concerned in the collection 
and management of his majesty's duties of customs from 
the town of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts 
Bay, in North America ; and to discontinue the landing 
and discharging, lading and shipping of goods, wares and 
merchandize at the said town of Boston, or within the 
harbour thereof.'* 

* Maay native Americans, who were at this time in London, presented a peti- 
tian to parikuneat m behalf of their coontiymen in BoetODi against the operation 
of this act It was written by Arthur Lee. 

208 LIFE OF 

If the colonies in general permit this to pass unnoticed^ 
a precedent will be established for humbling them by 
degrees, until all opposition to arbitrary power is sub- 
dued. The manner, however, in which you should meet 
this violent act, should be well weighed. The proceed- 
ings of the colonies, in consequence of it, will be read 
and regarded as manifestos. Great care therefore 
should be taken to word them unexceptionably and plau- 
sibly. They should be prefaced with the strongest pro- 
fessions of respect and attachment to this country; of 
reluctance to enter into any dispute with her ; of the 
readiness you have always shown and still wish to show, 
of contributing according to your ability, and in a consti- 
tutional way to her support ; and of your determination 
to undergo every extremity rather than submit to be en- 
slaved. These things tell much in your favour with 
modei*ate men, and with Europe, to whose interposition 
America may yet owe her salvation, should the contest 
be serious and lasting. In short, as we are the weaker, 
it becomes us to be suaviter in modo, however we may 
be determined to act fortiter in re. There is a per- 
suasion here that America will see, without interposition, 
the ruin of Boston. It is of the last importance to the 
general cause, that your conduct should prove this opin- 
ion erroneous. If once it is perceived that you may be 
attacked and destroyed by piecemeal, actum esty every 
part will in its turn feel the vengeance which it would 
not unite to repel, and a general slavery or ruin must en- 
sue. The colonies should never forget Lord North's 
declaration in the house of commons, that he would not 
listen to the complaints of America until she was at his 
feet. The character of Lord North, and the consideration 
of what surprising things he has effected towards enslav- 
ing his own country, makes me, I own, tremble for ours. 
Plausible, deep and treacherous, like his master he has 
no passions to divert him, no pursuits of pleasure to with- 
draw him from the accursed design of deliberately de- 
stroying the liberties of his country. . A perfect adept in 
the arts of corruption, and indefatigable in the application 
of them, he effects great ends by means almost magical^ 


because they are unseen. In four years he has over- 
come the most formidable opposition in this country, 
from which the Duke of Grafton fled with horror. At 
the same time he has effectually enslaved the East India 
Company, and made the vast revenue and territory of 
India in effect a royal patronage. Flushed with these 
successes, he now attacks America ; and certainly if we 
are not firm and united, he will triumph in the same 
manner over us. In my opinion a general resolution of 
the colonies to break off all commercial intercourse with 
this country, until they are secured in their liberties, is 
the only advisable and sure mode of defence- To exe- 
cute such a resolution would be irksome at first, but you 
would be amply repaid, not only in saving your money, 
and becoming independent of these petty tyrants, the 
merchants, but in securing your general liberties. You 
are however more capable of judging what is proper and 
practicable. My great wish is to see you firm and 
united. Adieu. 

Yours affectionately, Arthur Lee." 

« LoKDOw, Dec. 13th, 1774. 

My Dear Brother, — The proceedings at the congress 
are yet unknown to us, but our last accounts from you 
signify that the non-export will not take .place till the 
present crop is shipped. It is unfortunate that you did 
not adopt that measure immediately upon the receipt of 
the late acts, because the operation of it would have 
been felt by this time, and would in all probability have 
enforced the repeal of them this session. But now by 
that dangerous delay, the present parliament will be in- 
volved like the old one, and the plea of wounded dignity 
will still impede a retraction. The merchants too, being 
in possession of one year's crop, will be enabled to pay 
the tradesmen, &c. and subsist themselves under a sus- 
pension of trade for at least a year, so as to prevent any 
clamour, and give the ministry that time to try what 
fraud and force can do to divest you of your liberties. 
Thus, by an ill judged tenderness towards men who 
have neither the feelings of humanity or justice for us, 

VOL. I- 27 

210 LIFE OF 

but on the contrary would joyfully minister to our oppres- 
sion, we have strengthened the hands of our enemies, and 
subjected ourselves to additional hazards and hardships. 
However, instead of idly lamenting over what is irre- 
trievable, let us consider what should be our conduct in 
the present situation. If the people flatter themselves 
that the threat will be sufficient, and that they will not 
be put to the trial, under that dangerous deception they 
will again plant tobacco, and be equally unprepared to 
stand the contest. The utmost attention should there- 
fore be employed to convince them that it is serious, that 
nothing but a hearty struggle will save their civil and re- 
ligious liberties. In order to be prepared, they should 
double their quantity of corn and grain, not that they 
can export it, but that they may enjoy the blessing of 
plenty to mitigate other hardships, and keep the country 
in good humour ; they should plant great quantities of 
cotton, and desist immediately from the use of mutton 
and lamb, which will furnish them against next winter 
with wool and cotton enough to clothe the whole colony. 
With provisions cheap and plenty, and warm clothing, 
you may surely bid defiance to this country. Every 
thing that will yield spirit,- as persimmons, grapes, &c. 
should be gathered and distilled ; rye and barley should 
be cultivated for that purpose. My reason for this is 
that it will be the plan to cut oflF all communication be- 
tween the colonies, from whence the usual supply 9f 
spirits being prevented, the common planters to whom 
they are absolutely necessary may be induced to murmur 
if not resist those measures of opposition, which our 
Scotch friends will take care to whisper them are the 
cause of their distress. As a great deal depends upon 
the hearty concurrence of the body of the people, pro- 
vision should be made against every thing that may ob- 
struct it. The ministerial language now is not for force ; 
however I would not trust ihem, but prepare against that 
too by arming and exercising the militia. The plan at 
present is to pass two acts, one for taking the fishery 
from New-England and encouraging the Canadians, the 
other to make all associations touching trade, treasonable. 


Additional supplies will be granted, and it will be left to 
the king and his ministry to add military force, which I 
verily believe they will do. You have the whole of their 
plan before you, and I hope you will not remit of the ut- 
most activity to defeat it. The not planting any tobac- 
co will be a decisive measure to convince them here that 
you are in earnest. Such conviction will be of great use. 
You may depend upon it that the merchants here will 
never move in your behalf till you alarm their fears so 
much, or touch their interests so strongly, as to make the 
cause their own. My anxiety about the public absorbs 
every id^a of private concerns. Col. Phil, remits me 
nothing, and the additional expenses of my being called 
to the bar in April next, will distress me extremely. My 
love to Mrs. Lee and every body else. Adieu. 

Arthur Lee.'' 

"London, Dec. 22, 1774. 

My Dear Brother, — The proceedings of the congress 
meet with universal approbation here, and have operated 
like an electric shock upon the ministry and their de- 
pendants. They begin to reprobate their own measures, 
and each to exonerate himself from the charge of having 
advised them. The king consented to receive the peti- 
tion of the congress, and lord Dartmouth told us it was 
found to be decent and respectful. I expect we shall 
receive his majesty's answer time enough to send with 

The merchants have advertised for a meeting, and 
every thing seems to promise a speedy accommodation. 
The terms of that must depend on you. Your demands 
must be made with great moderation, and should not, 
nay I think cannot be receded from one iota. Depend 
upon it, the same firmness and unanimity which have 
compelled a conciliatory disposition, will enforce a full 
redress. Be therefore firm and fear not. The excess 
of my anxiety for our ultimate success, and the termina- 
tion of these unhappy disturbances, makes me sometimes 
apprehensive that these specious appearances will make 
you remiss in your preparations for a different conduct ; 


that you will forget that he who sheathes the sword be- 
fore the peace is concluded, exposes himself to a shame- 
ful defeat. But trusting to your wisdom, I hope you 
will treat them as appearances only, which firmness, vig- 
ilance and unanimity alone, on your part, can realize. 

December 24th, Lord Dartmouth this day informed 
us that his majesty received your petition very graciously, 
and for its importance would lay it before his houses of 
parliament when they met. 

I communicate to you the following copy of a letter 
from Lord Chatham, because I think it must give you in- 
finite satisfaction. At the same time I must entreat you 
not to let it get into the press, as it would be a breach 
of honour in me. 

* I have not words to express the infinite satisfaction 
which I feel, since congress has conducted this most ar- 
duous and delicate business with such manly wisdom 
and calm resolution as do the»highest honour to their de- 
liberations. Very few are the things contained in their 
resolves that I could wish to be otherwise. Upon the 
whole, I think it must be evident to every unprejudiced 
man in England, who feels for the rights of mankind, 
that America, under all her oppressions and provocations, 
holds out to us the most fair and just opening for restor- 
ing harmony and affectionate intercourse as heretofore. 
I hope that the minds of men are more than beginning 
to open on this great subject, so little understood, and 
that it will be found impossible for free men in England 
to see three millions of Englishmen slaves in America.' 

Such praise from the character of the age, ought to in- 
spire you with confidence, if any thing can add to the 
conscious dignity of freemen, and make you resolve to 
maintain your demands with immovable firmness. 

December 26th. I was yesterday in the country with 
Lord Chatham, to show him the petition of the congress. 
He approves of it exceedingly. His words were, * the 
whole of your countrymen's conduct has manifested 
such wisdom, moderation and manliness of character, as 
would have done honour to Greece and Rome in their 
best days.' Laudari a laudato viroj should make us 


cautious that we support the character by a manly per- 
severance in those measures which have secured it. His 
opinion is that a solemn settlement of the question, by a 
renunciation of the right to tax on one part, and an ac- 
knowledgment of supremacy on the 'Other, might be 
made. My object is to unite the heads of opposition upon 
one uniform large ground, which, with the present pop- 
ularity of our cause, will I think enforce a complete ab- 
olition of these pernicious measures. I have this moment 
learnt that the resolution of the court is to repeal all the 
acts except the declaratory and admiralty act ; that lords 
North and Dartmouth are to give place to lords Gower 
and Hillsborough, who are to commence their adminis- 
tration with these conciliatory measures. The incon- 
sistency of this plan is no objection to the probability of 
it, for these men have long been disciplined to turn, and 
turn, and turn again. But you may learn from it that 
there is little cordiality in the relief to be given, and that 
we are to hold a jealous eye over the measures of men, 
whose minds are actuated against us by the bitterest 
rancour and revenge. You will consider this intelligence 
as of doubtful nature, and let no hasty gleam of hope go 
forth, which may tend to make men remiss in their ex- 
ertions, or relax in the terms they demand. Farewell. 

Your affectionate brother, Arthur Lee. 

To Col. Richard Henry Lee." 

" London, Dec. 26th, 1774. 

My Dear Brother, — It is with great pleasure I inform 
you that the proceedings of the general congress, and the 
vigorous preparations for effectual resistance, have render- 
ed our cause so popular, and so intimidated administration, 
that they seem determined to give us redress. The king 
received the congress petition very graciously, and is to 
lay it before his two houses of parliament as soon as the 
adjournment for the holidays is over. It is whispered 
from court that Lord Gower and Lord Hillsborough will 
be put into the places of Lord North and Lord Dart- 
mouth, and that all the acts will be repealed except those 
for establishing admiralty, &c. courts, and declaring the 

X i 4 LIFE OF 

ri^ht. Should this be true you will see with what ill-will 
this partial relief is given, and that they are determined 
to continue our apprehensions by advancing our worst 
enemies, and preserving those acts as the seeds of conten- 
tion. But you will certainly be of opinion, with all our 
friends here, that nothing but a full and solemnly ratified 
redress ought to satisfy us, and that the same resolution, 
unanimity, and firmness, which have extorted a part will 
compel the whole. 1 have waited on Lord Chatham 
with the petition, on which, and on all the proceedings of 
the congress he bestows the highest commendation. He 
is clearly for a full, solemn, authentic settlement of the 
dispute upon the conditions proposed by the congress, and 
will assuredly support it with all his abilities. 1 think I 
shall get the heads of opposition to unite with him, as I 
find them much disposed to it. This junction, with the 
voice of the people here, and the firmness of America, 
will I trust compel our oppressors to absolute submission. 
My love to Mrs. Lee, and respects at Mount Airy. Adieu. 

Arthur Lee.'' 



"Temple, June 10th, 1771. 

Sir, — The session of parliament is now at an end 
without one oflFensive measure to America. We owe 
this to the difference with Spain, which engaged all the 
attention of administration in the first part of the session ; 
and a quarrel with the city of London, which employed 
the remainder. 

I am very well informed that my Lord Hillsborough, 
aided by his most illustrious friend the Nettlehen, has 
planned an act to change the mode of electing your coun- 
cil, which was to have been carried into execution this 
session, but was prevented by the contingencies I have 
mentioned. Could any action of their lives warrant a 
supposition that experience would teach them right wis- 
dom, I should be inclined to believe, that perceiving how 
quiet the colonies are when not irritated, they will desist 
from agitating anew those waters which have not been 
easily composed. But I know that neither experience 
will give them true wisdom, nor time assuage their ma- 
lice. Therefore I think it my duty to give you this in- 
formation that you may have time before next session of 
parliament, to take such measures as you may judge most 
effectual to defeat their intentions. 

I am the more suspicious that the measure is suspend- 
ed only, that I find Lord Hillsborough takes great pains 
to persuade and to assure your countrymen that as long 
as they continue quiet nothing will be done to their pre- 
judice. As treachery and imposition is his fort, there is 
most danger when his professions are warmest. Besides 
as he certainly intended mischief, he is more strongly in- 
duced to exercise those arts in order to quiet the alarm 
which such an intention going forth would necessarily 
produce. He possesses too a perverse spirit, that thinks 
he is doing nothing if he is not doing mischief. You 
may conceive, sir, whether such a temper perpetually 
acted upon by the implacable hatred .of Bernard is likely 
to abandon a favourite system of tyranny and revenge, 

216 LIFE OF 

without any apparent reason. I am therefore of opinion 
that the fire still subsists, though covered with deceitful 
ashes ; and such I can assure you are the sentiments of 
the best friend you have here, Col. Barre. 

It would form a very powerful objection to this bill, if 
America in general appeared to be alarmed at it. And 
certainly innovations abridging liberty in one colony are 
very just cause of apprehension to all. It might be 
therefore of great use to apprise the leading members of 
the different assemblies of the business, and engafge them 
if it should be moved here to procure petitions against it. 
I will write to Mr. Dickinson upon it and to my brother. 
Should such a bill pass the first session, as it is proposed, 
the injustice of deciding upon a matter so interesting to 
the province without hearing their objections, will be fla- 
grant. Should it be deferred after being moved, the rest 
of the colonies if properly prepared, will have an oppor- 
tunity of joining you in the opposition, and though 
their councils are generally upon a slavish establishment 
already, yet this being a mode only of trenching on the 
freedom of your constitution they must see that if any 
other part of their constitution, should be equally obnox- 
ious because equally free^ the same attempt will be made 
to destroy it. The enmity conceived against the council 
proceeds from their having embarrassed and opposed 
them in their arbitrary proceedings. Therefore it is in 
truth an attempt against American liberty. Viewing it in 
this light the rest of the colonies cannot but be impress- 
ed with a sense of the common danger that attends the 
establishing a precedent for altering by the intervention 
of the British legislature, whatever opposes the arbitrary 
measures of administration in America. 

I have read lately in your papers an assurance from 
Dr. Franklin that all designs against the charter of the 
colony are laid aside. This is just what I expected from 
him ; and if it be true, the Dr. is not the dupe but the in- 
strument of Lord Hillsborough's treachery. That Lord 
Hillsborough gives out this assurance is certain, but 
notorious as he is for ill faith and fraud, his duplicity 
would not impose on one possessed of half Dr. F.'s sa- 


?;acity. And indeed what reason is there for this change ? 
3 the oppressive plan against America abandoned ; or is 
it discovered that an independent council will be less 
troublesome in the prosecution of it than they hitherto 
have been ? Neither the one nor the other ; and though 
the reasons I have already mentioned compelled his lord- 
ship to suspend the execution of his scheme, yet to trust 
that it is therefore laid aside, is a degree of credulity and 
infatuation which I hope will never be imposed on the 
assembly. The minister's aim in these assurances is 
manifest, not only to remove the odium which the dis- 
covery must bring upon him, without his plans being ex- 
ecuted, but to lull to sleep that vigilance and precaution 
which the detection would produce on your side, and 
which would much embarrass if not frustrate his design. 
Could he thus smother your suspicions and silence all 
opposition from you, he would have nothing to obstruct 
him but the agent, from whom his apprehensions cannot 
be very great. The possession of a profitable office at 
will, the having a son in a high post at pleasure, the grand 
purpose of his residence iiere being to eiSect a change in 
the government of Pennsvlvania, for which administra- 
tion must be cultivated and courted, are circumstances 
which, joined with the temporising conduct he has always 
held in American affairs, preclude every rational hope that 
in an open contest between an oppressive administration 
and a free people. Dr. F. can be a faitl^ul advocate for 
the latter ; or oppose and expose the former with a spirit 
and integrity which alone can, in times like these, be of 
^ny service. By temporising I mean, consulting the in- 
clination of ministers and acting conformable to that, not 
to the interests of the province. Thus when the Rock- 
ingham administration espoused the American cause 
no man was more zealous or active than Dr. F., since 
that be has been totally inactive ; and his particular pai^ 
tizans here, the Quaker merchants, were opposed to the 
late measure of petitioning for the repeal of the revenue 
act ; though the exciting the merchants and manufac- 
turers here to petition against it was the great benefit 
expected from the non-importation agreements with you^ 
VOL. I. 28 



918 LIFE or 

which the Dr. immediately after advised the Philadel' 
phians not to violate. The artifice of this is manifest, 
that advice made him popular in America, his preventing 
the effect of it recommended him to administration here ; 
and in consequence we see, that though accounts of 
that letter were transmitted to Lord Hillsborough, the 
writer stands in the same place and favour as before, 
though it is a fixed rule of conduct with his lordship to 
displace all those who not onlj oppose, but who do not 
conform perfectly to his plan. 

I feel it not a little disagreeable to speak my senti- 
ments of Dr. Franklin, as your generous confidence has 
placed me in the light of a rival to him. But I am 
so far from being influenced by selfish motives, that 
were the service of the colony ten times greater, I would 

< perform it for nothing rather than you and America, at 
a time like this, should be betrayed by a man, who, it is 

. hardly in the nature of things to suppose, can be faithful 
to his trust. Your house has done me the honour unso- 
licited and personally unknown, to testify their approba- 
tion of the manner in which I have treated the enemies 
of America and their particular foes. Such an approba- 
tion is with me the highest incentive not only to oppose 
your avowed enemies, but to detect your false friends. 

'^ I could have wished the address of your council to the 
new viceroy had been conceived in a different strain from 
the one which I have read. The circumstances therein 
mentioned, as inducing them to applaud his majesty's ap- 
pointment do, in my opinion, render the appointment 
more alarming and the person more detestable than even 
those of Governor Bernard. The man who rises to 
the same bad eminence, by sacrificing every sacred tie 
and every duty due to his country and to the community, 
of which he was born a member, most surely incurs guilt 
of a much deeper die than a stranger who commits no 
such violation of duty or of feeling. Such characters as 
that of Governor Hutchinson unhappily occur too often 
in history, and have ever been the bane of public liberty 
and virtue. With plausibility to conceal their want of 
principle and ambitious views, and knowledge to conduct 



them successfully to their pernicious ends, they accom- 
plish the attainment of ivhat they wish, and become the 
most dangerous instruments of oppression ; I will there- 
fore venture to foretell that Mr. Hutchinson will prove 
one of the most abject tools of administration, that ever 
disgraced the dignity of human nature, or trampled on 
the rights of mankind. 

Wishing that I may not have trespassed too much on 
your time and patience, I remain sir, your sincere friend 
and very humble servant, Arthur Lee." 

« Texplk, June 23, 1772. 

My Dear Sir, — Since my last to you, I have received 
your two last favours ; for which I cannot express how 
much I am obliged to you. I have reconsidered what I 
then wrote you touching the policy of a congress ; and 
I am happy in retracting my opinion, upon a full convic- 
tion that you are wiser and better able to Judge what is 
proper in this business than I can possibly be. From the 
very beginning of this dispute, I have taken that part in 
it which a general zeal for liberty, pointed by a particu- 
lar duty to my country, prompted. I have been fixed in 
two fundamental opinions on it ; that the parliament had 
no legislative right over us, and that when firmly united, 
we might maintain our rights against the power of this 
country. No position seemed ever clearer to me than 
that a free people could not be bound by laws not made 
or assented to by themselves. In so far as they were 
bound, they were not free. 

When we consider from how much more feeble be- 
jinnings other states have established their claims to 
freedom, it is plain that a fixed resolution only was want- 
ing on our part, to vindicate our invaded rights. 

And yet I must confess to you that I wished the dis- 
pute might be accommodated without urging it to its ut- 
most. I foresaw great present misery to America, in 
bringing it to such a decision at this time ; and ruin to 
this country, which I cannot help revering as the noble 
nurse of generous freedom. It seemed^to me that draw- 
ing a line between internal and external legislation, 
would leave us room enough to thrive and prosper in, and 


220 LIFE OF 

this country sufficient power to maintain her ground 
against her European enemies. Something, I thought, 
was to be yielded to the parent state ; and as we were 
rising and she sinking, I felt it more desirable that we 
should gradually arrive at the full enjoyment of liberty 
by inheritance, than by violently grasping at it, precipi- 
tate her falL 

These were my sentiments ; and these I long ago laid 
down in a periodical paper, written in Virginia, signed 
Monitor. The first wish of my heart is that America 
may be free — the second is, that we may ever be united 
with this country. But this uniqn, however desirable, 
must not be upon dishonourable and slavish terms. And 
in truth, I cannot discover a disposition in this country to 
unite upon terms fair and honourable to us, unless upon 
some degree of compulsion. That degree of compulsion 
will, I think, spring from a congress ; and if it should not, 
such a measure will still have tHe very desirable effect of 
knitting firmly the colonies together. When that is effect- 
ed, upon the great ground of public liberty, we may bid de- 
fiance even to this country. Your remark upon Junius 
Americanus is just, and yet there is some difference be- 
tween defending the cause here and with you. The en- 
emies of America have ever strove to avoid reasoning 
upon the real question, by the inflammatory charge of its 
being a pretence only on our part for claiming absolute 
independence. Our advocates have endeavoured to pin 
them down to the very point in issue, by affirming that 
no such claim was meditated, nor any resistance ever 
given to the operation of the supreme authority of the 
British legislature. It was policy to force the adversary 
to keep upon that ground, which was notoriously unten- 
able. Neither would it have been becoming for an indi- 
vidual to have held so high a tone, until America had set 
the key. And certainly you have laid down and miain- 
tained a position which, since the commencement of this 
dispute, has been either not touched at all, or with a 
trembling hand. Nor could any thing be more fortunate 
than the event wjiich produced your declaration. For it 
appearing to have been pointed out to you attd^ forced 

ARTHUR tec. S21 

from you by the forward and impudent zeal of Mr. Hutch* 
inson, no one imputes it to any premeditated intention, 
similar to that of which you have been accused. So that 
it happens with peculiar felicity that the very declara- 
tion, the charge of which so exasperated the minds of 
men here, is now formally made and irrefragably main- 
tained, without exciting one murmur of reproach or in- 
dignation. The whole blame is visited upon Mr. H., 
who certainly at this moment totters on his throne. With 
how much melancholy propriety may he use these heart- 
felt reflections of Macbeth : 

< I have lived long enonch : my way of life 
Is faU'n into the sere, uie jellow leaf ; 
And that which should accompany old age. 
As honor, lo?e, obedience, troops of fitiends, 
I must not look to have ; but in their stead 
Curses not load, but deep ; mouth honor, breath. 
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.* 

I should have felt it as impiety not to have wished his 
fall ; yet I pity him when falling. 

I have marked two things in the event of this contest 
between us and this country, which seemed to have flow- 
ed from a grievous overruling providence, precipitating 
. oiir enemies into the very pit they had prepared for us.* 
Their view was to enfeeble and enslave us. To effect 
this, they endeavoured to engage the public against us, 
by representing us as rioting in afiSuence, in a land where 
every thing was plentiful, and nothing taxed ; and that 
our opposition to their new system was grounded merely 
upon a claim of absolute independence. The people, 
taking these things for granted, are flocking to this land 
of milk and honey ; thereby enriching us and impover- 
ishing them. The numbers that have shipped themselves 
off* from Ireland and Scotland within these four years, 
and are daily emigrating, is incredible. So powerfully 
does the persuasion work, yet so opposite to their inten- 
tions. From charging us with aiming at independency, 
they have brought us to consider, then to claim, and I 
think in God they will bring us to confirm it. 

With how much more propriety might the people for 


thisy than for what the governor directs, go up with a 
general thanksgiving to God, who out of evil hath mani- 
festly brought forth good ; hath confounded the wicked 
in their own imaginations, and out of the malice of our 
enemies hath worked prosperity and honour to his ser- 

Lord Dartmouth is too insigificant, for you to regard 
what he says. The letter you mention cannot do any 
good, and may in some measure be productive of the 
evil you apprehend. And yet I hope the conviction of 
the people is too istrong to be misled by false lights. I 
am happy to hear of the firmness of Mr. H., and have un- 
deceived Mr. Wilkes. The gentlemen you recommend 
shall be taken care of. I have read Mr. Adams's essays 
in the public papers, with astonishment at the depth of 
his law learning. He will do our society honour. 

It gives me great pleasure to know that you and my 
brother Richard Henry, have commenced a correspond- 
ence. I recommended it to him ; and wished that no 
punctilio of cereniony might prevent a communication 
which must be, I am sure, beneficial to the great and sa- 
cred cause of public liberty. You will find him ever 
.ready to defend, at all hazards, the rights and liberties- of 

I have this moment received information which I com- 
municate to you in great confidence, for in such it was 
trusted with me by a peer, no one being now admitted to 
hear the debates of the lords. When they were a few 
days since debating on the East India bill, which among 
other things appoints judges for that country, Lord Shel^ 
burne rose and remarked, that he had heard nothing of 
America during this session, that he saw things taking a 
very serious aspect in that country, that on this very sub- 
ject of judges there were great and just complaints, since 
as it was right and necessary that they should be inde- 
pendent here, it was much more so that they should be 
on that footing in America, because the farther power is 
from the fountain head, the more danger there is of its 
abuse ; that America was one of the cables which kept 
our political vessel from shipwreck, her rights were sa« 



cred, and we ought to redress her grievances, that he had 
congratulated America on the appointment of the present 
noble lord to that department, from the moderation and 
purity of his principles ; but he had hitherto expected in 
vain, the healing, conciliatory, and uniting measures, 
which he hoped would flow from that noble lord's senti- 
ments, which he knew were once as friendly to the colo- 
nies as his own. 

Lord Dartmouth replied that his sentiments were the 
same with Lord Shelburne's, and that he had formed his 
plan of redress and reconciliation, which he would carry 
into execution at the hazard of his office. I commit this 
intelligence to your discretion ; at the same time I can- 
not help wishing it may not go forth among the people. 
Nothing can in my opinion do more injury to our cause, 
than withdrawing the attention and confidence of our 
countrymen from themselves, to a reliance on the promi- 
ses of this country. To be redre«'3ed they must be re- 
spected, to be respected they must be formidable, to be 
formidable they must be united. You are now in a fair 
way of establishing that union ; for God's sake let no 
delusive expectations divert you from it. Were this 
country to grant you every thing, they who call them- 
selves our friends think we deserve, it would not be half 
so much as we ought todemand. Their utmost conces- 
sions flow from policy, not from principle. It is our busi-. 
ness, when we do demand a bill of rights, so to frame it, 
that no question hereafter may arise touching the liber- 
ties we ought to enjoy. The indignity of having endured 
so many flagrant violations of our rights is now over, and 
we may coolly and circumspectly form our plan, and pre- 
pare for its effectual execution. 

With regard to the particulars and extent of Lord 
Dartmouth's ideas of redress, I am unacquainted with 
them, as he speaks only in general terms. But I am 
sure his abilities and weight are not equal to the attempt. 
Lord North, who keeps him in his place, is very luke- 
warm in the business, and infirm in his seat ; so that not 
only the inefiSciency of what we may expect from them, 
but the improbability of their being able to effect any 

224 UFB OF 

thing, should prevent us from desisting from those great 
and effectual measures, which will establish our liberties 
upon the most permanent foundation. 

We have just now carried Mr, Sayre sheriflf for London, 
&c. in great triumph, solely on public ground, and the 
interest of the bill of rights. No men can be more de- 
termined in the cause of liberty than the livery of Lon- 
don. I shall not longer detain you from your public la- 
bours but to assure you, that I am, with the truest respect 
and esteem, dear sir, most sincerely yours. 

Arthur Lee. 

P. S. If you have kegt any chronological account of the 
events since the commencement of our dispute in 1764, 
I shall be much obliged to you for it. The variety of 
pursuits I am obliged to attend to impair the memory of 
particulars, and it will be exceedingly laborious to revise 
all the papers contaii\^ them.'^ 

*< Middle "f ehple, Dec. 24, 1779. 

My Dear Sir, — I have long waited with anxious ex- 

?ectation for a letter from you. But I will not complain, 
ou have not neglected the public. The present seems 
to be a favourable moment for exertion. I mean with a 
view of overthrowing some of those hypocritical traitors 
who reign over you. As to any farther success it is not 
to be expected. Lord Dartmouth is at least too mode- 
rate a character to attempt any thing grand or decisive. 
Connected as he is, the tenor of his conduct must be 
very humble. 

Lord North, is for the quiet enjoyment of a place which 
he knows to be precarious, nor will he hazard the accele- 
rating of his own fall, by attempting any thing so unpleas- 
ing as the redress of American grievances would be, to 
his royal master. 

The East India business is like to engross the attention of 
this session of parliament. It seems probable that govern- 
ment will assume the^'ura regalia of that mighty dominion. 
This will fatally extend the influence of the crown. Our 
constitution is indeed already infected to the very heart. 
The ruin however may be accelerated. Asiatic wealth 

ARTHUR L£E. 1826 

has, like a mighty torrent, overwhelmed every free con- 
stitution upon which it has been hitherto turned. But 
the virtue of this unhappy country has at once to con- 
tend with the luxury of the East, and Scotch treachery. 
To 4)he however who adores liberty, and the noble vir- 
tues of which it is the parent, there is some consolation in 
seeing, vvhile we lament the fall of British liberty, the 
rise of that of America, Yes, my friend, like a young 
phoenix she will rise full plumed and glorious from her 
mother's ashes. The numbers who are daily emigrating 
from this country, and the multitudes that on any public 
calamity will resort to us, must in a little time lay the 
most permanent foundation of populousness and power. 
America, in her turn, will be the imperial mistress of the 
world. The late contest turned upon us the eyes of all 
Europe, and whenever the people of it want refuge, or 
to seek the retreats of freedom, America will be their 

We are endeavouring to prepare my lord Dartmouth 
for your representations, by giving him a proper idea of 
Mr. Hutchinson. Sir Francis is as assiduous in support- 
ing him. I cannot but think that a determined opposi- 
tion on your part to the dangerous innovation of pension- 
ing the governor and judges, will defeat it. It is so di- 
rectly contrary to his majesty's declaration, and so utter- 
ly inconsistent with every constitutional idea concerning 
an impartial administration of justice, that it cannot be 
maintained but on the ground of arbitrary policy. The 
removal of Mr. H. would I think be a very great mortifi- 
cation and check to those among you who are selling their 
country for plunder and preferment. I do not despair of 
this being effected. 

I will lake care that the generous conduct of Mr. Otis 
to his assassin shall be held up to the public. I hope 
that gentleman is perfectly recovered from the conse- 
quences of that infamous transaction. 

It will give me very great pleasure to hear from you, 
and to know that you are all firm and unanimous in your 
opposition to arbitrary power. 

VOL. I. 29 

826 LIFE OF 

I am dear sir, with very great esteem, your sincere 
friend and very humble servant, Arthur Lee," 

« January 25th, 177a 

My Dear Sir, — I have just now received yourj^our 
of Nov. 3, 1772, together with a pamphlet and some pa- 
pers, for which I am extremely obliged to you. The 
pacquet however came to me open, which I am told 
generally happens to letters which come by Bristol ; the 
merchants there being solicitous to acquire information in 
commerce before it reaches London. I must therefore 
beg the favour of you to be cautious of writing through 
that channel. 

I shall take the liberty of putting the first part of your 
letter in the newspapers here, as I think it extremely 
proper my lord Dartmouth should read the excellent ad- 
monition it contains. I very much suspect that the ap- 
probation boasted of, is a forgery of the pious gover- 
nor's. Be that as it will, 'tis fit his lordship should 
know it. 

In truth I have very little hope from Lord Dartmouth. 
He is an insignificant character, and with all the aifecta- 
tion of piety and good intentions towards the public, be 
has voluntarily connected himself with a set of men, the 
most abandoned in private life, and the most flagitious in 
public, that this or any other nation ever produced. The 
sole inducement to so infamous a connexion were the 
emoluments of office. For these he has already made 
shipwreck of his character, which I fear he will never 
have virtue enough to retrieve. I have thought it how- 
ever the most prudent method to treat him with tender- 
ness at jfirst, but should he continue to approve and sup- 
port the conduct of your pernicious governor, he will be 
treated with as little lenity by Raleigh, as his predeces- 
sor was by Junius Americanus. 

I cannot describe how much I am pleased with the 
spirit with which you oppose the infringement of your 
rights. I cannot but hope every town in the province 
will harmonize with Boston. Nothing will make so deep 
an impression here as a proof of unanimity and firmness. 


My countrymen must ever remember what I have before 
mentioned, that from the justice of the ruling powers in 
this country they are to expect nothing, from their fears 
and necessities every thing. I agree entirely with you, 
that th^ tribute, is the indignity that must be done away. 
Your sentiments correspond entirely with those I signi- 
fied to Junius in answer to his c^rd, (of which I sent you 
a copy) in these words. "The emigration of our ances- 
tors, you are pleased to say, deserved no praise. But did 
it deserve the worst of all punishments, the loss of lib- 
erty ? We are not setting up any new claim, but oppos* 
ing it in you. We are exclaiming against your invasion 
of those rights which are essential to the existence of 
freedom, against the infringement of those privileges 
which we have enjoyed and exercised for more than a 
century. The question is not whether we shall be per- 
fectly free, but whether we shall be perfectly enslaved. 
While the crown possessed over us all the executive, the 
judicial, and three-fourths (so at least it is in Virginia) of 
the legislative authority, while this country exercised a 
supreme legislative power respecting our trade, and while 
we had no power of impeachment, it is plain we were 
far from possessing the rights of Englishmen. Indeed 
we retained but that single security of the constitution 
which arises from giving and granting our own money : 
and it is of that, you would finally strip us. It is for this 
we are contending, and I hope shall ever contend till we 
receive full and ample satisfaction." 

The last signal act of my lord Hillsborough was his 
declaration of war against the Caribs of St. Vincent^s. 
It is impossible to conceive a measure so wicked in its 
principle, and so weak in its plan. The troeps were 
sent on that service at a season when they were sure of 
destruction from the inclemency of the weather. The 
intention of the armament was to seize by force upon 
their property, and if they refused to become slaves, to 
transport them to some desert on the coast of Africa. 
This is the plan laid down in his letters, which are now 
before the house. Had his conduct towards America, 
and the king's approbation in advancing him to an earl- 


>28 LIFE OV 

donit left the least doubt of his being one of the most 
flagitious men alive^ this business would have stampt 
upon him indelibly that character. 

My lord Chatham aed my lord Shelburne remain faith- 
ful to the cause of this country and America. But I 
would wish my countrymen to remember that salvation 
Cometh not from the east^ nor from the west, but from 
themselves. The scripture tells us that to put our trust 
in princes and in great men is futile, and certainly we 
were never so respectable here as when we seemed to 
be on the eve of anpealing to God. I am afraid many of 
my letters to you have miscarried, that (which I think 
was sent by Mr. Story) containing an answer to the gov- 
ernor's resolution in council against J. Americanus, must 
have failed, as you have never mentioned the receipt of it. 
The full council ought in justice to have rescinded so 
scandalous a resolve. 

Mr. Wilkes tells me he has information of Mr. Han- 
cock's having deserted the cause. But I hope he is mis- 
informed. It is sometime since I sent you notice of your 
being chosen a member of the bill of rights, which I 
hope you have received. As the postage of letters con- 
taining newspapers, &c. is extremely heavy, I have en- 
closed you franks with which I beg the favour of you to- 
cover any thing of that sort which you may be so good 
as to send me hereafter. As there is not so great cer- 
tainty of jQnding me in my chambers in the Temple, ^s 
my brother, I have got them addressed to him. 

I have heard much of a sermon preached before your 
assembly by Mr. Tucker, I think, drawing the line be- 
tween obedience and resistance* If it strikes you as 
worth reading, be so obliging as to send it me. 

I have wrote tvi^ice to Mr. Gushing without receiving 
a line in return. The seeing Mr. Otis on your commit- 
tee, gives me hopes he is recovered. 

With the warmest wishes for your health and success, 
I am, my dear sir, your most sincere friend, 

Arthur Lee.'^ 

ARTHUR LE£. 229 

<* Temple, June 11th, 1773. 

My dear Sir, — I am so very unfortunate as to be dis- 
appointed in not receiving the letter which your last 
favour, of the 22d April, informs me you had written by 
the same opportunity. The captain can give no account 
of it ; and I am very greatly disappointed. I am how- 
ever very much obliged to you for the packet I did re- 
ceive, as well as for the pleasure 'you intended me, and 
of which, I know not what accident has deprived me. 

There is but one opinion here concerning Mr. Hutch- 
inson's late conduct ; and that is in condemnation of it. 
Nothing alarms them more than that spirit they flatter- 
ed themselves was extinguished, and which they con- 
ceive this controversy has reanimated. I am extremely 
rejoiced at the manner in which the assembly of Vir- 
ginia has taken it up ; and I think it is now in a train 
which cannot fail of conducting us to what I have so 
long and ardently wished for, the establishment of a gen- 
eral and well weighed petition of American rights, which 
may be the fixed object of American opposition. The 
prospect of a general war in Europe strengthens daily ; 
and it is hardly probable that another year will pass 
away before that event. You cannot therefore be too 
speedy in preparing to r6ap the full advantage of that 
opportunity, so as to leave the fundamental principles 
at least of American liberty no longer questionable. 
You have with great propriety mentioned in your answer 
to the governor's first speech, that the drawing, a line 
being an arduous undertaking and of general concern- 
ment, yoii would not attempt it without a general con- 
gress. Of the justice of this I am clear, but doubtful of 
its policy. I cannot help thinking that the leading men in 
each assembly communicating with one another, would 
form a plan more wise and well considered than can be 
expected from a public body. And there would be no 
danger of effectual opposition to it in the different as- 
semblies, when the time came in which they could de- 
mand a ratification of it from this country with assurance 
of success. My great objection to a public congress is 
that it will rouse this country, and perhaps incense her 



to some hostile measure* The only contention in 
which we are unequal to her, is in that of arms. It 
is not wise policj therefore to provoke this issue of the 
dispute, if our purpose can be compassed without it. 
For with all her ill usage Britain is still our mother 
country. We are growing stronger every day, and she 
weaker. Therefore the more we procrastinate any des- 
perate decision, if it must end in that, the fairer will be 
our prospect of success. But I conceive such a termin- 
ation of it would be eifectually prevented, if we deferred 
the open measure of a congress till the situation of this 
country, from its being involved in a war, rendered it 
impossible for her to*^ attempt any military operation 
against us. My opinion is, that though every thing is to 
be hazarded rather than suffer ourselves to be enslaved, 
yet that if we can attain this, and without bloodshed, it 
is our duty to endeavour it. 

Your reply to the governor's second speech- is certain- 
ly unanswerable. The principle of the argument lies 
indeed in a very narrow compass. By the feudal law 
as it has been adopted into our constitution, all ter- 
ritory taken possession of in any manner whatsoever, by 
the king's subjects, rests absolutely in him. This has 
been the law and the practice invariably ever since we 
have any record of our proceedings. It is therefore that 
the king has ceded, given, or granted such territory to 
whom he pleased, and in what manner he pleased, with- 
out the intervention or consent of the state. By the state 
I mean here the supreme legislature, though the word 
sometimes stands for the king alone ; and in the debate 
lately in the house of commons on General Burgoyne's 
motions relative to acquisitions' made in India, it wa» ad- 
mitted that the word state, might imply the crown or the 
company. Taking it however to import, as it generally 
does, and the governor intends, the king, lords and com- 
mons, there is not a single instance in which acquired 
territory did rest or was conceived to rest in them. So 
far from it, that the king since the last peace made a 
present of the conquered and ceded lands in the islands 
to the states, which was thankfully received. Which 


surely would not have happened had there been an idea 
that they were not his to give. Of the additional ac- 
quisitions in America he continues to dispose at his pleas- 
ure, as absolutely his. It is true that the king being the 
head of the American states, and at the same time under 
the control of the two houses of parliament here, a vir* 
tual control arises to them from thence over his conduct 
in America. But this is not an original participation of 
power, but an incidental and collateral check over it. 
And certainly the mistake, or as I am more inclined to 
conceive it, the sophistry of Mr. Hutchinson, consists in 
not distinguishing between a direct original right and one 
that is merely incidental. Thus when Charles the First 
became Emperor of Germany, though the states could 
not claim any immediate control over his hereditary do- 
minions, yet previous to their gratifying him in any de- 
mand, they might have stipulated that certain things 
should be done in Spain, and then they would virtually 
govern that country. It seems to me that this is the only 
method by which a British parliament can constitution- 
ally interfere in the government of the colonies. But 
certainly this is a great question, and one which this 
country will never concede to reason. Necessity alone 
will prevail with her to give up this claim, however re- 
pugnant to constitutional principles. Let it therefore be 
our policy to watch for that necessity ; and in the mean 
time avoid the risk of bringing it to the decision of force, 
in which alone, we have any chance of being losers. 

It is impossible for me to find words to express my 
infinite contempt of him who would be capable of so 
shameless a prostitution of character, as publicly and sol- 
emnly to declare, that the << king has no wish but that 
of reigning in the hearts and affections of his people." 
There is not an action of his reign, some few treacher- 
ous ones excepted, but what manifest it to be his sole 
wish to be the tyrant of his people. To assert a thing 
therefore so notoriously false and flattering, argues such 
a turpitude of mind as ought to doom its possessor to a 
suspension between heaven and earth, as unworthy of 
a. place in either. You may depend upon it that .the late 


American Act of Revenue, moved from the throne with 
an insidious view of dividing the American opposition, 
that is by holding up Rockingham, Lord Chatham, Shel- 
burne and Camden, who were then in, ^s having adopted 
Mr. Grenville's policy with regard to us. 

I have read Mr. Tucker's sermon with great pleasure. 
Lord Chatham and Lord Shelburne approve of it much, 
as they do of your proceedings in the town and assem- 
bly. They certainly do great credit to the province, and 
to the cause of America. Surely the governor will not 
venture into the field of controversy again. 

I shall take care to undeceive Mr. Wilkes respecting 
Mr. Hancock. I am extremely sorry for the misfortune 
of the other. 

Dr. Franklin frequently assures me that he shall sail 
for Philadelphia in a few weeks ; but I believe he will 
not quit us till he is gathered to his fathers. Lord Dart- 
mouth I understand has promised to contrive some me- 
thod of admitting the payment of the late agents' salary, 
without forming a precedent for the future. He is a 
poor wretch ; and though not so actively bad, is yet I 
believe as capable of adopting any unjust and arbitrary 
measure as my Lord Hillsborough. He forfeited his 
honour and his character in accepting the place ; and his 
Rhode Island measure seems to show that he is a man 
after his majesty's own heart, arbitrary and hypocritical. 
I am with great truth, dear sir, your affectionate 
friend, Arthur Lee." 


"July 21, 1773. 

My Dear Sir, — I am indebted to you for yours of the 
13th May, with the paper enclosed. It gives me pleasure 
to see every thing, the mmutest expression of resentment 
in the people, against those who infamously aid in op- 
pressing them. 1 confess it would give me pain to think 
that such base men as Hutchinson and the commissioners 
should profane with their unhallowed revels, the rewards 
of their treachery, that sacred hall which a zealous and 
much injured people have so often consecrated to liberty. 

You are now acquainted, from the most incontestible 


evidence, with the very men by whom you have been 
traduced, and at whose instigation, co-operating with their 
friend Gov. Bernard, so many atrocious injuries and in- 
sults have been brought upon you. It will be astonishing 
if the governor can, after the damning proofs produced 
against him, even palliate his conduct, much less propose 
a coalition which it is possible for you to adopt. I 
will trust to the resentment of the house for punishing 
him as far as they legally may ; nor should 1 be surpris- 
ed if the more ungovernable, though not less honest in- 
dignation of the people should make an immediate sac- 
rifice pf such an insidious enemy. 

You can certainly judge what would be most proper, to 
convey a true opinion of him ; the publishing his letters, 
or reading them in private. It must however be consid- 
ered, that their being published would put all others so 
much on their guard for the future, that there would be 
no ppssibility of ever furnishing you with more. And 
I should conceive that showing them to the members 
and other leading people would answer every good pur- 
pose, without spreading the alarm to similar knaves, by 
making them public. The friends of this bad man must 
be very audacious, or the credulity of those to whom they 
speak unequalled, if after such specimens of his former 
correspondence, they hope to affirm with success that his 
late letters are * replete with tenderness to the province.' 

The letters you have, were obtained by a tery singular 
accident ; and you may guess it wHl not be easy to pro- 
cure any more, at least in a short time. I shall try how- 
ever to get from Lord D. some general idea of the char- 
acter Hutchinson has given him of the province. No 
doubt he will for the future be extremely guarded, though 
perhaps no human circumspection could have prevented 
the present detection. May providence thus always in- 
terfere to confound the politics of wicked men ; and 
teach even the worst pf them that honesty is the best 

I neither see nor hear of any thing being done in con- 
sequence of Lord Dartmouth's promise. Were his prin- 

voL. I. 30 


ciples ever so pure, his ability and weight are not to be 
relied on. I am therefore of opinion that it will be best 
to pursue the plan your own wisdom points out, to effect 
a union of all the colonies on some general and conclu- 
sive grounds. There are a thousand little circumstances 
which prudence might suggest, with respect to this 
country ; but the great consideration is, that you will be 
respected and redressed here exactly in proportion to the 
unanimity and firmness of you opposition. Fortiter in re^ 
suaviter in modo ; concordia res parccB crescunt. 
Heaven prosper you. Adieu. 

Arthur Lee." 

«* August 28, 1773. 

Dear Sir, — I received your last, of 28th June, contain-- 
ing an account of the proceedings against Hutchinson 
and Oliver, in which I most entirely concur. It is in- 
deed a real grief to me that the very name of our coun- 
try should be stained with having given birth to men 
capable of so much baseness. Mr. Hutchinson's mind 
seems to be agitated by this event even to passion. 
Despondency and despair will assuredly succeed this 
weak effort. Miserable wretch ! if he be not totally lost 
to all sense of virtue and shame, what a lot is his ! Fallen 
into the practice of the vilest informer, he has as it were 
with the touch of IthuriePs spear, started up in his own 
shape a fiend, detected, despised, and in every honoura- 
ble sense of the<word, disgraced. His politics confound- 
ed, his ambition marred, his gray hairs brought down 
with shame and sorrow to the grave. Feeling for him 
as he ought to feel, while I despise and detest, I cannot 
but pity him. How will the old and disappointed impos- 
tor meet the censure of the world ; and what is infinitely 
worse, the condemnation of his own heart ? If patriot- 
ism meets no reward, we may yet I think, rejoice that 
it shields us from calamities like these. 

Mr. Oliver seems to end as he began, the pert, quib- 
bling, egregious knave. 


Your petition remains unpresented, Lord Dartmouth 
being out of town. It is somewhat extraordinary that 
several councils should have been held upon the affairs 
of America without his being present. I suspect he 
has declared his determination to resign, if concili- 
atory measures are not adopted. He is so strongly 
pledged to do this, that cheap as I hold him, I think he can- 
not have failed. The resolves of Virginia, I understand, 
is the measure they stomach least. They have not yet 
however determined upon any thing. Should they at 
length resolve to persevere in defiance of us, I expect 
Lord Dartmouth will resign, and Lord Weymouth suc- 
ceed him. The Bedford party and the king are for urg- 
ing the tyranny. It will puzzle them, I trust, to pursue 
their plan without shame and disappointment to them- 
selves. If a general communication takes place among 
the colonies, as I cannot doubt it will, it is not in their 
power to prevent our regaining in the most ample man- 
ner, the rights they have violated. They may indeed 
protract the day of restitution, but it will finally b6 fatal 
to the very power they wish unduly to promote. Instead 
of an immediate, manly compliance, which would concili- 
ate our respect, they will wait till they are compelled to 
an ignominious surrender, which will create our contempt. 
One cannot but lament that the seeds of lasting enmity 
and disunion should be thus sown between two brave 
people, who united are proof against the world in arms, 
by men who have neither worth nor wisdom. 

I am very sensible of your goodness to me, and of the 
honour the house have done me in their directions to Dr. 
Franklin. I hope at least in zeal and assiduity, I shall 
not disgrace your recommendation, or disappoint the 
confidence of the house. It will be more than a twelve- 
month before I shall be called to the bar, till which time I 
cannot speak, as counsel, before the council. I am not 
such a favourite as to obtain any relaxation of their rules. 
Indeed I believe the petition will not be referred to a 
hearing, unless Hutchinson should come over and demand 
it. It is a business administration would not wish to 
have agitated, especially in public. Even bad men find 


it generally conyenient to renounce the traitors, howsoev* 
er they may approve the treachery ; and, as the court 
must he convinced that the two criminals having lost all 
confidence with the people, are thereby incapacitated to 
serve them any longer, I do believe they will be dismiss* 
ed. I hear very little said in their defence, and even 
that by insignificant persons. 

To corrupt the administration of justice in the persons of 
the judges, is the last effort of political wickednessi The 
judges who submit to this state of corrupt dependence, 
ought to be branded as enemies to their country. They 
should experience at least the universal and constant con- 
tempt of their countrymen. They will soon feel their 
salaries dearly earned. 

May the great God, in whose hands are all the corners 
of the earth, confirm and guide you in that which alone 
can work our salvation, a firm union, and a resolute, un- 
remitting opposition. 

I am, my dear sir, most sincerely yours, 

Arthur Lee." 

« TxMPLX, Oct. 13th, 177a 


Dear Sir, — ^Nothing has happened, since last I bad the 
pleasure of writing to you. Lord Dartmouth is still in 
the country, your petition therefore not delivered, nor 
does any thing transpire relative to the intentions of ad- 

Lord North is a man totally immersed in the corrup- 
tion and emoluments of office, and who therefore wishes 
by all means to avoid moving momentous questions. 
Yet I think the affairs of America must come into parlia- 
ment next session. Parliament i3 prorogued to the 23d 
Nov., and unless something unforeseen happens, will not 
meet till January. They have therefore full tinle for de- 
liberation. As to us, delay may be distressing, but it is 
not dangerous. Every day gives us new light and new 
strength. At first it was a tender point to question the 
authority of parliament over us in any case whatsoever ; 
time and you have proved that their right is equally 
questionable in all cases whatsoever. It was certainly a 


great stroke, and has succeeded most happily. It will 
remain an authentic record to vouch in opposition to 
their declaratory act, wiienever the great and ultimate 
question is seriously brought forward. It stands uncon-* 
troverted. The champion for despotism, Mr. H. has in 
the opinion of all mankind cried Craven. And we not 
only grow strong in argument, but in people to maintain 
it ; as well from a rapid natural increase as from nume- 
rous emigrations. Turning the prospect a thousand 
times in my mind, I see decided victory dwell upon our 
side. This proud usurping parliament must humble 
itself before us, and acknowledge the liberties of America 
and England to have the same sacred foundation. 

Have we not reason then my friend to be of good 
cheer ; to congratulate ourselves that we are engaged in 
the cause of virtuous liberty and truth ? The present op* 
pression may be painful, but we shall work out our sal- 
vation. We shall establish our rights in adamant, and 
rear an imperishable monument to liberty. 

I am with great truth, dear sir, your most sincere 
friend, Arthur Lee. 

P. S. — I had forgot to mention the scheme which is 
carrying into execution of insidiously obtaining from us 
the duty on tea, by the company, under an act of the last 
session, exporting that commodity to America on their 
own account, and paying government the duty here. 
Should this succeed, the company will never be prevailed 
on to petition for the repeal of the American Revenue 
Act, besides that its success may lead to a thousand 
other artful ways of enslaving us, by what alone can 
effect it, our own acquiescence. The introduction of the 
tea ought I think therefore to be opposed. I enclose 
you a letter on that subject. The confidence with which 
the least appearance of safety inspires cowards, should 
make us cautious of permitting administration to succeed 
in any of their measures. The commodity may under 
this manoeuvre come cheaper to the consumer, the mer- 
chants' commission, &c. being avoided, but whatever 
touches our liberties should, under every temptation, be 
shunned. Besides when once they have fixed the trade 


upon us, they will find ways enough to enhance the price. 
But I rest in your wisdom. A. L." 

" No. 38, Tower Hill, Dec. 22d, 1773. 

My Dear Sir, — ^No new light has been thrown upon 
American politics since I last wrote to you. My Lord 
Dartmouth continues promising every thing and doing 
nothing. His suffering the order for paying the judges' 
salaries to remain unsettled, and refusing that of your 
agent, is a proof to me that he has no inclination or no 
power to relieve us in any thing. The means of redress 
for the rest of our complaints he may say parliament 
only can minister. But he can have no such excuse 
for protracting the revocation of the instructions to 
the governor, with which parliament have no concern. 
I protest to you it seems to me that the intentions of ad- 
ministration are the reverse of beings conciliatory or 
remedial. I cannot but think that the sending tea to 
America was a ministerial trick of Lord North's, who is 
treachery itself, to stir up again some violence on your 
part, which might justify them in continuing the present 
impositions by coercive means. The directors were to 
my knowledge fully apprized of the consequences of 
sending the tea, and that it would end in a certain loss 
to the company. 'But they were determined to make 
the trial without giving one reason for it, and it is well 
known they are under ministerial influence. 

I wish most sincerely I may be mistaken in Lord 
Dartmouth. Perhaps the utter contempt in which I hold 
him may beguile my judgment. Had he done any one 
of those remedial acts, which, if be is minister, were in 
his power, I should have some hope. But how can it be 
expected that having violated every tie of honour and of 
gratitude to get into place, he should behave well in it 

I have been afraid that your letter to him would give 
offence to the other colonies ; and shock in its infancy 
the union and confidence which are so essential to our 
welfare. As it lays down a plan of redress for the whole, 
should not the sense of the whole have been taken be- 
fore it was authorized by your bouse of assembly ? Let 

ARTHUR LE£« 239 

US suppose the ministry should pretend to adopt it, and 
several of the other colonies should not be contented, 
they would then plead that as you could not agree about 
the mode, no relief could be given. This would be a very 
likely means of involving you in irreconcilable disputes, 
and destroying all confidence and harmony among you. 
I speak only of what I fear. It must be remembered 
that free people are always zealous and umbrageous. 
Great management is requisite to keep such spirits in 
temper. Believe me sir, the harmony and concurrence 
of the colonies is of a thousand times more importance 
in this dispute than the friendship or patronage of any / 
great men in England. The heart of the king is hard- 
ened like that of Pharaoh against us. His nobles are so * 
servile that they will not attempt any thing to which he 
is averse, unless necessity should compel both him and 
them to assume a virtue which they do not possess. 
That necessity must come from your general, firm, per- " 
manent opposition. To cultivate and preserve that, is - 
therefore the first object of American policy. The op- 
emtion of it though slow, will be certainly successful. 

Our valuable friend Mr. Temple is in some distress at 
present. Mr. Whately has raised a suspicion of his 
having taken from him clandestinely the letters sent to 
you. A duel has been the consequence, in which Mr. 
Whately was wounded. Many scandalous falsehoods 
have been circulated by Mr. Temple's enemies, impeach- 
ing his fairness in the encounter, at which, by Mr. Whate- 
ly's desire, there were no seconds. Mr. T. will give 
them a complete answer as soon as Mr. W. is entirely 
out of danger. He received no wound. There is no 
man more obnoxious to Hillsborough, Bernard, Knox, 
and all that tribe of determined enemies to truth, to 
virtiie, liberty and America. 

Your petition against the base betrayers of their coun- 
try remains, as far as I can learn, subjudice. Lord Shel- 
burne will endeavour to have the complaints of America 
attended to, their situation examined, and their grievances 
redressed in the eilsuing session of parliament. For the 
interest and happiness of both countries it is my most 





earnest wish that moderation and jastice may govern for 
once the measures of this administration* 

I am yours most truly, Arthur Lee." 

^ Loif Dozf, Feb. Stb^ 1774. 

Dear Sir, — I informed you in my last of the insolent 
abuse which the solicitor-general, Mr. Wedderburne, pour- 
ed forth against Dr. Franklin before the privy council, at 
the hearing of your petition. Dr. Franklin bore it all 
with a firmness and equanimity which conscious integri- 
ty alone can inspire. The insult was offered to the peo- 
ple through their agent ; and the indecent countenance 
given to the scurrilous solicitor by the members of the 
privy council, was at once a proof of the meanness and 
.malignity of their resentment. I enclose you some pa- 
pers, in which you will see Mr. Wedderburne treated as 
he deserves. 

I mentioned that they threatened to take away Dr. 
Franklin's place. , That threat they have now executed. 
The same cause which renders him obnoxious to them, 
must endear him to you. Among other means of turning 
their wickedness to their own confusion and loss, this of 
the post-office is not the least desirable, or most difficult. 
Though not a tax in its principles, it is in its operation. 
It produces already £3000 yearly, and is hourly increas- 
ing. This revenue therefore alone would furnish most 
fearful means of corruption. We see from the violent 
and ungrateful treatment of Dr. F., whose wisdom and 
industry alone has fostered it from being worse than 
nothing, to its present prosperous state, that it is expect- 
ed the post-master shall be an enemy to America. In* 
every view therefore, it is our duty to frustrate by all 
means so pernicious an institution. The means are in 
your hands, and easily applied. Let the merchants of 
Boston, New- York, and Philadelphia, support carriers by 
subscription, who shall deliver all letters post free, and 
this imposition will inevitably fail. 

The present time is extremely critical with respect to 
the measures which this country will adopt relative to 
America. From the prevailing temper here, I think you 


ought to be prepared for the worst. If seems highly proba- 
ble that an act of parliament will pass this session, enabling 
his majesty to appoint his council in your province. On ' 
Tuesday last the Earl of Buckinghamshire made a motion 
in the house of lords for an address to the king, to lay be- 
fore them the communications from Gov. Hutchinson to the 
secretary of state. He prefaced his motion with declaring, 
that these papers were to be required merely out of form ; 
for that the insolent and outrageous conduct of that pro- 
vince was so notorious, that the house might well pro- 
ceed to punishment without any forther information or 
enquiry. That it was no longer a question whether this 
country should make laws for America, but whether she 
should bear all manner of insults and receive laws from 
her colonies. That Dr. Franklin was here, not as an 
agent of a province, but as an ambassador from the states 
of America. That he could not compare his embassy to* 
any thing but that sent by Louis XIV. to the republic of 
Genoa, commanding the doge to come and prostrate him- 
self at Versailles, to appease the resentment of the grand 
monarque. One can hardly conceive a man's uttering 
such an absurd rhapsody even in the delirium of a 
dream, much less in a deliberate, premeditated speech, 
and upon the most important question to this country 
that can ever come before the legislature. He was an- 
swered by the Earl of Stair, who said it could be consist- 
ent neither with humanity, justice, nor policy, to adopt 
the noble lord's ideas against America. Lord Dartmouth 
then begged the motion might be withdrawn, not, as he 
said, from any desire to throw cold water on the noble 
lord's zeal, but because the despatches were not yet ar- 
rived, and they would be laid before the house in .due 
time. The motion was withdrawn. 

Lord Dartmouth declaring that he did not mean to 
throw cold water on such zeal, might proceed from the 
affected meekness of his temper, or from his approba- 
tion of it. Indeed the insincerity and insignificancy 
of the man make his motive very immaterial. 

By very late letters from New- York we understand that 

VOL. I. 31 


it is settled to return the tea, as at Philadelphia ; and 
that the governor will not interfere. This completes the 
history of that unfortunate adventure ; but it leaves Bos- 
ton singled out as the place where the most violence has 
been offered to it. Your enemies here will not fail to 
take advantage of it, and Mr. Hutchinson's representa- 
tions I presume will not soften the matter. They will 
shut their eyes to what is obvious, that his refusal to let 
it repass the fort compelled you to that extremity. Be 
prepared therefore to meet some particular stroke of re- 
venge during this session of parliament ; and instead of 
thinking to prevent it, contrive the means of frustrating 
its effect. I have already mentioned the alterations of 
your charter relative to the election of the council ; but 
I am in hopes true patriotism is too prevalent and deep- 
rooted among you, to suffer them to find twelve men even 
upon the new establishment abandoned enough to betray 
their country. I am willing to flatter myself that there, 
are not six such men as Hutchinson and Oliver in the 
whole province. 

If our wise men here should think proper to publish a 
second edition of the Rhode Island commission, ground- 
ed on the governor's lucubrations on the treason commit- 
ted by the town-meeting and the Mohawks, what recep- 
tion will it meet with in Boston? 

I am, my dear sir, your most sincere friend, 

Arthur Lee." 



The following 18 the commencemeDt of a memoir of the American revolntion which 
Mr. Arthur Lee did not live to eomplete. Mnch of what he did write has been 
lost, and but a mutilated scrap can be presented to the reader. 

Memoirs are the handmaids of history. They fur- 
nish her with facts, which are the foundation of her 
work. They enable her to trace to their true though se- 
cret motives, . actions which would otherwise appear dark 
and incomprehensible. By these she developes what is 
hid, and illuminates what is obscure. Memoir-writings 
therefore, though they may be of less dignity, are not of 
less utility than history; 

It is to aid in placing the history of the American revo- 
lution in its true light, that the following memoirs are 
written. The author of them was concerned in its events 
from its commencement to its conclusion. He was em- 
ployed generally in the highest stations, and in the most 
secret and confidential transactions. He always preserv- 
ed the original papers and letters, on which he founded 
the journal from which the following memoirs are extract- 
ed. He is therefore. sure of their authenticity, as well as 
of his determination^ "nc quid falsi dicere; ne quid acre 

The writer of these memoirs was in London when the 
repeal of the stamp-act was agitated in both houses of 
parliament. He beard Mr. Pitt* and Lord Camden de- 
liver those celebrated jspeeches on this question, which 
would have immortalized them as orators and statesmen. 
Though the obnoxious act was repealed, yet he was per- 
suaded that the spirit which dictated it and was still 
resting near the throne, was not changed. With this im- 
pression he returned to Virginia. 

* Never were the power and fascination of eloquence more strongly exemplified 
than in the speeches of Mr. Pitt « « * « ^^^ rest of th^ note 
is obliterated] 

« I 


244 LIFE OF 

It was not long before his apprehensions were realiz- 
ed, by the passage of an act of the British parliament 
for imposing duties on tea, paper, glass, &c. exported to 
the colonies. This was changing the mode, but preserv- 
ing the principle of the stamp-act. This was soon and 
ably pointed out in some periodical letters, under the sig- 
nature of a Pennsylvania Farmen These letters were 
written in a popular style, were universally read, and as 
universally admired. 

I endeavoured to aid their operation in alarming and 
informing my countrymen, by a series of letters under 
the signature of the Monitor. In the course of a few 
months it was manifest that the people of this continent 
were not disposed to be finessed out of their liberties ; 
and as I knew that the British cabinet vi^as determined to 
enforce rather than abandon the usurpation, I was per- 
suaded that a very serious contest was approachii^. To 
prepare for that was the next object of my mind. The 
most effectual way to accomplish this, it seemed to me, 
was to form a correspondence with leading patriotic men 
in each colony. I wrote myself to London, where the 
acquaintance I had would enable me to obtain speedy and 
accurate information of the real designs of the British 
ministry, which being communicated to leading men in 
the several colonies, might enable them to harmonize in 
one system of opposition, since on this harmony the success 
of their opposition would depend. In pursuance of this 
plan I went to Maryland, to Philadelphia, and New- York. 
The men I had in contemplation were Mr. Daniel Dula- 
ny, who had written some able pieces styled Considera- 
tions on the Stamp- Act; Mr. John Dickinson, who was 
the author of the celebrated Farmer's Letters ; and the 
leader of the Livingston party in New- York, who is at 
present governor of New Jersey. 

I found Mr. Dulany so cold and distant that it seemed 
in vain to attempt any thing with him. Mr. Dickinson 
received me with friendship, and the contemplated corre- 
spondence took place. Mr. Livingston, of New- York, 
was absent from the city in the country, lamenting the 
death of a child, so that I did not see him. The time I 


was to sail for England now approached ; I could not 
therefore proceed farther eastward. Embarking with 
one of my brothers, w^ arrived safe in London. 

The proceedings against Mr. Wilkes at this time agi- 
tated the nation. Mr. Wilkes was the idol of the people^ 
and the abhorrence of the king. All. the power of pre- 
rogative, all the influence of the crown, and every prac- 
ticable perversion of law, were employed to subdue 
him. • Of courage, calm and intrepid, of a flowing wit, 
accommodating in his temper, of manners convivial and 
conversible, an elegant scholar, and well read in constitu- 
tional law, he stood the atlas of popular opposition. 
Such was the man against whom the whole powers of 
the crown were mustering their rage"; and whom, to use 
the words of Junius, " the rays of royal indignation col- 
lected upon him, served only to illuminate, but could not 
consume." Mr. Wilkes was then confined in the King's 
Bench, as the printer and publisher of the Essay on Woman. 
The city of London was the strong hold of popular op- 
position, and the society of the bill of rights the most 
active in conducting it. This society consisted of real 
or pretended personal friends of Mr. W. ; but some insinu* 
ated themselves with very different views. 

Having taken this view of the political condition of / 
England, I formed the plan of connecting myself with 1 
the opposition ; and the grievances of America, with those I r 
of England. For these purposes I became a member of \ ^^ 
the bill of rights, and purchased the freedom and livery \ 
of the city of London. By these means I acquired a \ 
voice and influence in all the measures of that society, 
and in the proceedings and elections of the city. An ac- 
quaintance with Mr. Wilkes sodn grew into intimacy and 
confidence. The arbitrary views of the crown originated 
in the same spirit on both sides of the Atlantic. To sensi- 
ble men therefore, the combining of the complaints of 
the people of America and England, appeared Just and 
politic. I procured the introduction of the grievances of 
America into the famous Middlesex Petition^* and to 

* This was not efiected bat with great trouble and difficiUtjr, evop in the follow- 
ing general words. " The same duereiUhk has b^en extended by the same evil 

246 LIFE OF 

keep them alive in the popular mind, I commenced and 
continued a periodical paper, under the signature of Junius 
Americanus. My brother established himself in London, 
was elected an alderman and one of the sheriffs. Our 
footing was now strong, and the American cause was firm- 
ly united with that of England. During these transac^- 
tions I studied the law in Lincoln Inn and the Middle 
Temple, and being called to the bar, practised in the 
king's bench and on the home circuit. This situation in- 
creased my opportunities of serving my country. 

Lord Hillsborough was then first lord of trade. Fre- 
quent conversations with him convinced me that the min- 
istry were fixed in prosecuting their American plan, and 
were determined to make such alterations in the colonial 
governments, as should accommodate them to the new 
system of parliamentary power. A government west 
of the Alleghany mountains was to be constituted on this 

new ministerial model, under the name of Vandalia ; 

and were the principal proprietors in this grant, and 

the most active petitioners for it. 

Of the disposition and intentions of the administration 
I kept my correspondents in America constantly inform- 
ed, with this constant opinion, that they must prepare to 
maintain their liberties at all hazards. My conduct in 
England had reached America in so favourable a light, 
that the house of representatives of Massachusetts elect- 
ed me their agent in case of the absence or death of Dr. 
Franklin. At that time I was not personally known to 
any member of the house. The answer to the speaker 
of the house of representatives, the Hon. Thomas Gush- 
ing, was as follows. ' 

" Middle Temple, January 6tb, 177L 

Sir, — I have had the honour of receiving your favour of 
the 23d November 1770, intimating to me the pleasure 

eounwllon to your roajest j'0 dominionB in America, and has prodneed to our Buffer- 
ing fellow anbjects in that part of the world, grievances and apprehension$ Bimilai 
to those of which we complain at home. * ' The subject was novel, supported only hj 
myself, almost a straoger, and appeared to many of the leading men to be fore^ 
to their paipose. 


of the house of representatives of Massachusetts bay re-* 
specting their agency. 

Do me the favour sir, of accepting my thanks for the 
very obliging manner in M^hich you have signified to 
me the intentions of the house ; and suffer me to con- 
vey through you my warmest acknowledgments to the 
house, for this distinguished and unmerited mark of their 
confidence. The approbation of a free people I shall 
ever deem the most desirable and their service the most 
honourable. Especially am I flattered by the generous 
confidence of a representative body, who have uniformly 
asserted the constitutional rights of their constituents 
and eventually of all America, against the insidious and 
incendiary arts of government with a dignity, discern- 
ment and wisdom which have forced the applause of the 
present, and will secure to them the veneration of all 
future times. Feeling the same zeal for the sacred 
cause of American liberty which eminently animates 
your house, and having a lively sense of the particular 
oppressions of yobr province, I may venture to assure 
you sir, that if ever the tru3t should devolve upon me, 
out of the abler bands in which their wisdom has now 
placed it, I will to the utmost of my power watch over 
their rights and co-operate with them to obtain a redress 
of grievances, and to fix our constitutions on a clear and 
permanent foundation. It is incumbent on me however,*^ 
and I vidllingly embrace this opportunity to declare, 
that America must depend on herself for obtaining the 
security and redress she wishes. From this country a 
secondary support only is to be expected. It appears to 
me that nothing can be more necessary than that this 
truth should be well understood, lest too much confi- 
dence in others should lull us into a fatal security, or 
slacken those patriotic exertions which to be effectual 
should be ardent and unremitting. America must work 
her own salvation. His majesty's present ministers have 
brought the trial so fully forward as to render unremon- 
strating submission perfect slavery. They have substi- 
tuted discretion for law, and set the principles of the con- 
stitution, which should be fixed and free, afloat upon the 

248 LIFE OF 

merciless and fluctuating sea of arbitrary will. Not to 
oppose this most pernicious system would be a crime, to 
oppose it unsuccessfully will be only our misfortune. 
After juries have been abolished by the present establish- 
ment of admiralty courts, or rendered nugatory by the 
partial conduct of prerogative judges, our assemblies to 
every great purpose of the constitution almost annihilat- 
ed, property disposed of without the consent of the peo- 
ple, in short when the representative part of the consti- 
tution, the legislative, executive and judicial powers are 
completely torn from us, and vested in our arbitrary 
rulers, what farther badge of slavery have ministers to 
impose, or we to wear. Yet if force and lawless power 
must at present prevail, still it behoves us to protest 
. against that which we cannot prevent, and bear our tes* 
timony before God and man, that we did not submit 
without a struggle to this humiliating state of absolute 
bondage ; that our posterity when they have power, and 
power they will have, may not want spirit and example 
to reclaim those liberties which their forefathers reluct- 
antly resigned. You will pardon me sir, if I have tres- 
passed upon your patience. ^ Qut of the fulness of the 
heart the mouth speaketh.' My heart is filled with grieif 
and indignation for the oppressions of my country ; and 
my tongue shall sooner cease to move than to remon- 
strate against them. Convinced of the righteousness of 
the cause in which we are engaged, since nothing tends 
more to debase, vitiate, and abuse mankind, than the 
tyrannic system we are opposing, we may well trust that 
heaven will assist our earnest endeavours, and direct 
them to a happy issue out of all our difficulties. 

That the blessing of Almighty God may prosper all 
your councils I most sincerely pray. 

And am with great respect^ honourable sir, your 
friend and servant, Arthur Lee." 


The rescinding the non*importation agreement by a 
formal act of the merchants of New- York about this 
time, gave a great shock to the friends of America in 
England, and seemed to threaten the dissolution of all 
effectual opposition in America. 

AUTHtJR L££. S49 

A friend to Mr. Samuel Adams of Boston, had recom- 
mended to me the establishing a correspondence with 
Mr. Adams. As it coincided with my views, I readily 
adopted his advice, and wrote to him as follows. 

<< Middle TemplIb, January 10, 1771. 

Sir, — Our friend Mr. Sayre has done me the favour of 
communicating to me your very obliging invitation to a 
correspondence. An honour which I accept with great 
pleasure, because I have long respected your character, 
though your person was unknown to me. It will always" 
make me happy to submit my sentiments on the present 
state of politics, so very alarming to public liberty, to 
one, with whom I flatter myself I shall entirely harmo- 
nize in views of public good. It will be peculiarly unfortu- 
nate when the foes of liberty and virtue are conspiring to- 
gether manifestly to subvert the constitution, if the friends 
of freedom should stand single and un-united, to fall un- 
pitied sacrifices in an unavailing struggle. And certainly, 
despicable as those are who meditate our ruin, they set 
us an example of union, secrecy and perseverance, which 
highly deserves our imitation. Nothing escapes, of the 
conferences between Lord Hillsborough and Governor 
Bernard. Their doings are kept perfectly secret, and 
by the instructions to the wretched, because dishonest 
Hutchinson, they seem determined to fix an hermetic 
seal on all the springs of their movements with you. I 
have great comfort, however, in perceiving with what 
sagacity your house developes their designs, and the firm- 
ness with which you oppose them. Even the plausibili- 
ty of a Hutchinson is not equal to the task of evading 
that vigilance, which marks the representatives of your 
province as the real guardians of the people's rights. In 
that truly respectable and patriotic house, you, sir, stand 
eminently distinguished; and as a friend to liberty I 
have long been thankful to you for your wise and spirited 
exertions in its defence, without having had an opportu- 
nity of offering you my thanks. Do me the favour to 
accept them now, and be assured that whatever may be 
the event of the contest, they who have stood honestly 

VOL. I. 32 


forth in defence of the liberties of their country, will have 
their reward in the applause at least of all the worthy 
part of mankind. 

The infraction of the non-importation associations 
with you, has operated here like an opiate on all but the 
enemies of America. It has either benumbed their ex- 
pectations, or quieted their apprehensions, so as to make 
them believe the American opposition entirely annihilat- 
ed. It is plain, however, that our' enemies are not so 
deceived, since they are strengthening the hands of op- 
pression with you, and taking every precaution to render 
their despotic system as permanent as it is pernicious. 
We have, therefore, now little to expect from the public 
here, and still less from the leading men in this nation. 
From this number^ however, I am bound in truth to ex- 
cept the lords Chatham, Shelburne and Camden, and 
Col. Barre, who very sincerly wish, as I well know, to 
restore to us oUr violated rights, and the constitution as we 
formerly enjoyed it. Two evils have arisen from the 
manner in which the associations have been broken, 
which I am much afraid are irremediable — the loss of all 
character here with the public, and the destruction of 
that confidence and harmony among the colonies, so es- 
sentially necessary to unite their efforts and render them 
successful in the common cause. To regain the opinion 
of the public here, and reunite the affections and opera- 
tions of the colonies, is a task, however arduous, that 
must be undertaken. I can hardly think that the best 
plan of opposition will otherwise succeed. Might it not 
effect this to establish a correspondence among the lead- 
ing men of each province, that yoii might harmonize in 
any future measure for the general good in the several 
assemblies. Unanimity among yourselves will render 
you formidable and respected here. I observe that those 
who write in the public papers here against your town, 
are furnished with very speedy and accurate intelligence 
on all political affairs with you, which they communicate 
in such portions and manner as may best prejudice the 
public and promote their purposes. I have often lament- 
ed the want of authentic information to refute them. 


where from the general complexion of their story I con- 
jectured it was fraudulent and false. It will not, how- 
ever do to hazard one's conjecture on this ground, be- 
cause being once wrong would fix mistrust on every 
future attempt. I shall therefore be always obliged to 
you for such intelligence as will enable me to detect their 
falsehoods, and defend the province and the town from 
their unjust aspersions. The character you give of Mr. 
H — h — n is exactly conformable to the idea I had form- 
ed of him. The lust of power, not worthy of being dig- • 
nified with the name of ambition, is the animating prin- 
ciple of his conduct ; and duplicity, the mould in which 
he casts it. His public acts show him to be a devoted 
tool of the present government, and I could not brand 
my bitterest foe with a more odious appellation. 

My Lord Sandwich, " homo omnium quos terra susiinet 
seekratissimtts^^^ is made secretary of state on the resig- 
nation of Lord Weymouth. The cause of his resignation 
is supposed to be the accommodation which is contriving 
with Spain, too infamous it seems even for him to coun- 
tenance. Madame Barre has gained the entire ascend- 
ancy in the French cabinet, in consequence of which 
Chosieul, who was for peace, is supplanted. Upon the 
whole, I believe it will hardly be in the power of our ab- 
ject ministers to avoid a war ; and if so, America will, for ' 
the present, suffer no farther oppression. Indeed if she is 
wise, then will be the time to insist on a bill of rights, 
before she lends her blood and treasure to increase that 
power which is turned to her destruction. 

I have the honour to be sir, with very great respect, 
your most obedient humble servant, 

Arthur Lee." 

At this time the disposition of the court of Spain seem- 
ed so inclined to war, that though it was as little the wish 
of the ministry to hazard themselves in that field, as it 
formerly was that of Sir Robert Walpole, yet the bold 
proceedings of the Spaniards seemed to render it in- . 
evitable. The ministry were constantly goaded to it by 
the opposition, as a rock on which they must be wreck- 



358 LIFE OF 

ed. Every one knows by what a shameful submission 
they appeased the wrath of Spain. The manner in which 
the non-importation agreement had been violated in 
America dwelt heavily on my mind. The bad conse- 
quences of it appeared alarming in proportion to the high 
expectations which were founded on it. I was deceived 
both in my expectations and apprehensions. There are 
indeed so many unforeseen circumstances which defeat 
the best concerted political projects, that an experienced 
politician will build upon them with extreme caution. The 
anxiety of my mind dictated the following part of a let- 
ter to Mr. John Dickinson, dated January 10th, 1771. 

" From this pleasing prospect I must now turn to the 
melancholy view of our political state. When I speak of 
my country it is in the despair and grief of my heart. She 
is undone. That virtue which alone could have, saved 
her does not exist. There is in my apprehension a fatal 
sympathy between the merchants and the people. The 
former would never have hazarded such copious import- 
ations had they not been assured that the latter would 
purchase them. And if our liberties are not worth the 
difference between a homespun and a broadcloth coat^ 
between a worsted and a silk stocking in the estimation 
'of the people, on what are we to found our hopes of re- 
trieving our rights ? We have demonstrated our slavery, 
and submit to be enslaved for the most contemptible of 
all human gratifications, that of vanity. We have rat- 
tled our chains through all Europe, thiat all Europe 
might see we have not spirit to shake them off. It is 
not a doubtful business, a plausible usurpation, but an 
avowed, demonstrated, and acknowledged tyranny. We 
are not deluded, but driven into slavery. And this, not 
by the valour, the wiles, or the wisdom of the tyrant ; 
but by our own intolerance of every honourable and vir- 
tuous effort to redeem us from bondage. It is not that 
the non*importation agreements have been given up ; but 
that they were faithlessly kept and shamefully aban- 
doned. A measure found by experience to be impracti- 
cable or inadequate, might have been dropped with 
honour and propriety, but mutual treachery and bitter 


recrimination must render every future operation con- 
temptible and nugatory. In these circumstances sir, 
even your confidence and assurances can hardly revive 
my hopes. I am certain too that even our friends here, 
were they to come into power to-morrow, would not at- 
tempt to redress our grievances. They well know that 
against the sense of the members and lords of parlia- 
ment, against the plans and principles of the ostensible 
administration men and interior cabinet, but above all 
against the wish of the king and his favourite ; such an 
attempt, without a steadfast, determined, alarming op- 
position on the part of America, must be without success. 
It is therefore but too sure that the chains which the late 
system imposed, are rivetted on us. There are indeed 
leading men in this kingdom who are against the whole 
system, both principle and practice, but their opinions 
are over-ruled, and that without hope of the reverse. 
There is however one event to which I yet look forward 
with some confidence ; an event which cannot be at any 
great distance, that of a war. One noble and united 
struggle then would yet redeem us. I therefore took the 
liberty of proposing to your consideration whether it 
would not be proper to prepare for that opportunity^ 
especially in point of union ; for unanimity among the 
colonies is absolutely necessary to success, whatever 
may be the measure pursued. The assemblies should 
harmonize in three things. Refusing supplies without 
redress of grievances ; repeating their resolve of rights ; 
and sending over petitions for redress at that critical and 
alarming period, when the value 9f our affection and 
assistance will appear in its highest lustre ; the more 
symptoms we show of discontent and alienated afiec- 
tions the more sure will be the attainment of our end. 
Therefore the moderation so commendable at other times, 
would assuredly injure us then. If you could communi- 
cate this scheme, modelled and digested by your better 
judgment to such leading men in each colony as may be 
trusted, a plan might be deliberately formed, and a meat 
sure of so great importance would not be left to the pre* 
cipitate emergency of the moment of action. * 

\ ^ 


It is proper sir, that I should make some apology for 
presuming to advise where there is so much superior 
wisdom and knowledge. But I am prompted to exceed 
the limits of modesty by the warmth of my heart for the 
liberties of my country, and encouraged by the candour 
with which you treat me, to hope that excess will be 
pardoned. I am very well satisfied of the propriety of 
what you urge against addressing the people at this time ; 
but it is far from seeming probable to me that the min- 
istry will soon give any fresh cause of complaint by add- 
ing to the oppressions with which we are already loaded 
by any general act. Their system is the reverse. They 
think that to secure the ground they have already gained 
is sufficient for the present, and will furnish a foundation 
on which, when opportunity serves, an ampler tyranny 
may be erected. And surely we must want gall to make 
oppression bitter, if that we now sustain is insufficient, 
and our principles of liberty must be feeble indeed if we 
let the favourable opportunity of a war pass away unem- 
braced and unsuccessful. You very justly observe that 
to move large bodies permanently there must be an ap- 
pearance of deliberate moderation. But when opportu- 
nity seconds inclination, less address is requisite for the 
purpose. Our political state here is not very promising ; 
opposition is weak, and what is worse, wicked ; meaning 
no good to the people, and therefore not strengthened 
with their confidence. Administration, abandoned and 
having no character to lose, lend themselves desperately 
to the worst measures.. There seems to be no hope but 
in Lord Chatham an(} Lord Shelburne. Nothing but the 
emergency of a war will bring them in, on their patriotic 
principles. The ministry very sensible of this are ward- 
ing off a war with their utmost art But the politics of 
Europe seem so much inclined to a rupture that it ap- 
pears inevitable. The Duke of Bedford's death will 
throw the whole power into Carleton house ; but whether 
they will attempt or be able to sustain it alone, is doubt- 
ful* At present they seem inclined to recruit by draughts 
from the opposition, and the dispute will be between the 



Rockingham and Grenville parties, who are both at St. 
James's market, but differ in their price. 
I have the honour to be, &c. &c. 

Arthur Lee." 

My political progress had made me acquainted with 
many of the leaders of all parts of the opposition, such as 
Lord Shelburne, Mr. Beckford, Lord Temple, Mr. Dun- 
ning, sergeant Glynn, Col. Barre, Mr. Wilkes, the alder- 
men Sawbridge, Townsend and Oliver. 

It was by constantly comparing the; different ideas of 
Jthose gentlemen with one another, and with th^ plans and 
proceedings of the ministers, that I was able to form a 
pretty accurate judgment both of the real intentions of 
the latter, and how far America was warranted in relying 
on the support of the former. These were the two princi- 
pal objects of my pursuit. The dearest rights and interests 
of my immediate country were at hazard. It would not 
have been wise to have trusted these to the mere issue 
of political intrigues and party opposition for place and 
preferment. Some however of the above leaders, ap- 
peared to me hearty in the cause of America, as well as 
of England. Their advocation of liberty was general. 
Among these, the most illustrious was the Earl of Shel- 
burne. Him I had long known, long studied, and found 
his conduct uniform and unimpeachable. But the pri- 
vate life of this nobleman was no less the subject of my 
esteem and admiration. The following letter will bear 
testimony of my sentiments at that time regarding him ; 
sentiments which under great and various trials since, I 
have had no reason to alter. 

" October 25, 1772. 

To Dr. Priestly. 

Sir, — At the request of our very worthy friend, Dr- 
Percival, I very readily contribute my endeavours towards 
relieving you from a painful uncertainty respecting Lord 
Shelburne. The gratitude that I in common with all lov- 
ers of science, owe you, makes this my duty. A long and 
intimate acquaintance enables mc to speak with confi- 

266 LIFE OF 

dence of Lord Shelburne's real character. With a strong 
understanding, and great desire for the acquisitions of 
useful knowledge, he has a mind turned to the enjoyment 
of private life, as well as to those high pursuits in the 
state which become his rank. His aims are noble, his 
means fair and honourable. Nor does he forget or neglect 
in the pursuits of a statesman, the duties of domestic 
life* His family is regulated with the most perfect order 
and decorum. Hts guests are ^s at home, nor does any 
man better know how to combine the dignity of the no- 
bleman with the ease of a gentleman, and the familiarity 
of a friend. As a father and a husband, no man was 
ever more duteous, tender and attentive* I do assure 
you, sir, that I have not an idea of a more perfect state 
of conjugal happiness than that which subsisted between 
him, and the incomparable lady, who unhappily is now 
no more. Lord Shelburne has a great deal of good na- 
ture, and his behaviour has always a proper mixture of 
ease and dignity. I do not know one vice to which he 
is addicted, nor one virtue which he wants. In the coun- 
try, what time he has to spare from his domestic concerns, 
to which he is ever strictly attentive, is employed in 
reading or directing the improvements of his grounds. In 
town, the duties of a statesman occupy him chiefly. Up- 
on the whole sir, I may venture to assure you, as fs^r as 
my judgment can direct me, that in Lord Shelburne you 
will be connected with an amiable and honest man, of a 
noble nature, and exemplary in all the duties of social 
life. How far it may be eligible in the terms of it I can- 
not presume to judge ; but both from my regard for him 
and for you, I cannot help wishing it may take place. 
I am, &c.'' 


The removal of Lord Hillsborough from the Board of 
Trade, and the appointment of Lord Dartmouth to be sec- 
retary of state for the American departmeiit, had raised 
the expectations of the friends to America. His char- 
acter was that of an amiable man, exemplary in his devo- 
tions. In fact he was religious overmuch^ and even ad- 
dicted to methodism. Such a disposition argued a weak 

ARTHUR L££. S£»7 

mind, or hypocritical heart The subsequent conduct of 
this minister savoured of both. Neither his abilities nor 
his connexions promised much* 

The policy of administration seemed now, to take the 
colonies one at a time, and to begin with Massachusetts, 
which they considered the strong hold of liberty in Ame* 
rica. This mode was suggested by Sir Francis Bernard 
and Governor Hutchinson, and to them the execution was 
trusted* Some difficulties were to be smoothed by change 

. ing the charter mode of electing counsellors, and there 
was no doubt, that for thi^ and other purposes the char- 
ter was to be altered. Knowing this, and the conse- 

' quences of it, I was equally astonished and concerned to / 
find that Dr. F — ^n had attempted to lull the province to /^ 
sleep by assuring them they had nothing to fear on that 
subject. That he could be deceived as to the designs of 
administration, I could hardly believe. That he was 
bribed to betray his trust I had not suspected. It remain- 
ed therefore, as the most probable conjecture, that he 
endeavoured to lull his constituents into security, that he 
might prevent any commotions which would hazard the 
lucrative posts he possessed. From whatever motive the 
deception sprang, the mischief of it was such as rendered 
a counteraction of it necessary. For that purpose, the 
following letter was written ; but it was written in an- 
ger, and yet the experience I have had since would justi- 
fy the worst interpretation of his conduct. IPubltshed ^^ 
injiill^ page 215 of this volume^ under date of " Temple, 
June lOthj 177L''] 

The state of things in 1772 I represented to Mr. 
Samuel Adams in my letter of Dec. 24. [PtiWwfted in 
fill J page 224 of this volume."] 

The people of Boston, in town-meeting assembled, 
entered into a full declaration of their rights and griev- 
ances, and established a correspondence with the other 
town-meetings. Of this I received information in the 
following letter. 

VOL. I. 33 


858 LIFE OF 

« Boston, Dec. 8th, 1772. 

Sir, — In pursuance of a vote of the inhabitants of the 
town of Boston, at a legal meeting on the 20th Novem- 
ber last, I have the honour by the direction of their 
committee to transmit to you the votes and proceedings 
of that day, and am, with great esteem, sir, your most 
humble servant, 

Signed, William Cooper, Tovm Ckrk. 

Arthur Leey jE?«f." 

To a wise administration such measures would have 
appeared to be the solid foundation of serious resistance 
to arbitrary measures. They would therefore have de- 
termined to remove the causes of discontent or to take 
effectual measures for carrying their plan into execution. 
They do not appear to have done either. Sir Francis 
Bernard, Governor Hutchinson and their adherents were 
suffered to continue irritating the people ; and the .troops 
stationed at Castle William gave an appearance of sup- 
porting these obnoxious measures with military force. 
These things had the effect which might have been ex- 
pected, effects which were fully and repeatedly pointed 
out to the ministers long before they happened. The 
affairs of the East India Company being now the object 
with administration, I determined to join the opposition 
in that quarter, not only from a conviction of its being 
right, but with the hope of embarrassing their measures 
against America. A friend of mine qualified me as a 
proprietor. I soon got into a private committee of pro- 
prietors who met to consult upop the measures they 
should take. The Duke of Richmond and Lord Pigot, 
who was afterwards wickedly deprived of his govern- 
ment and murdered by some of the company^s servants 
in the East Indies, were of this committee. His grace 
seemed to be an oppositionist more from having little 
else to do, than from clearly comprehending the object 
and grounds of his opposition. Lord Pigot appeared to 
be a sensible, candid and upright gentleman. In this 
committee the system of opposition in the court of pro- 
prietors was generally planned. The bills brought into 
parliament by Lord North for raising the qualification of 


a voter in the company from £500 to £1000 of stock, 

and for appointing supervisors of parliament in 

India with supreme powers independent of the company, 
were measures of serious alarm, not only to the proprie- 
tors, but to every one who considered the extension of 
the influence of the crown from an increase of patronage, 
already too great ; as dangerous to the liberties of the 
people. The proprietary opposed in every step. They 
chose a special committee to watch over the measures 
of the minister and sustain their rights. I was elected 
into this committee. For some time we pursued the 
purpose of our appointment with ardour and apparent 
honesty. It was determined that two of jthe committee 
should speak at the bar of the house of commons against 
the bill for altering the qualifications. It was proposed 
to me to be one. My confidence { confess failed me. I 
doubted whether, being little conversant in public speak- 
ing, I should possess sufficient confidence in my own 
strength, to do justice to the subject or honour to myself. 
Doubting I declined. In this committee a circumstance 
happened of some singularity, and which served to show 
me of what stuff the majority of those composing it were 
made. Mr. Dempster, a member of the committee and of 
parliament, requested the advice and opinion of the com- 
mittee relative to the answer he ought to give to Lord 
North, who had proposed to him an appointment as one 
of the supervisors in India, to be made by one of the 
bills we were intrusted to oppose. He stated his own 
doubts whether he could with honour accept the minis- 
ter's offer, and therefore |;ie had declined giving him an 
answer till he had consulted this committee ; the rest of 
the members, two only excepted j. gave their opinion for 
the acceptance. Gov. Johnstone and a Mr. Rous made 
set speeches, even urging him to the measure with warm 
and plausible speeches. The governor observed with 
much sagacity that we had now brought the opposition 
to the very point we should wish — that m not embracing 
the opportunity of getting one of our friends into so 
valuable and important a place would be very much 
wanting to ourselves ; that such was the character of 

260 LIFE OP 

the honourable gentleman and such the confidence he 
possessed, that no appointment would give more pleasure 
to our constituents and to the nation at large. I was of 
the contrary opinion, supported by one member only, a 
Mn Chrecton, who was afterwards chosen an alderman 
of London. I requested the gentleman to consider in 
deciding on the conduct proper for him to pursue, in what 
situation he stood. That he was there m triple trust ; 
as a trustee of the people in parliament, as a proprietor^ 
and as a member of a committee to whom the sacred 
rights of the company, violated by this very minister, 
were specially confided ; that the acceptance of a place 
under a bill which he opposed and reprobated as a mem- 
ber of parliament, as a proprietor, and as one of their 
select committee, was manifestly incompatible with every 
claim to integrity and honour ; that the true point of 
opposition was to defeat a bill calculated to wrest from 
the company their rights and vest them in the crown, 
already too powerful in patronage and influence; that 
the obvious view of the minister who made this offer was 
to disunite and disgrace the opposition. It was true the 
honourable gentleman enjoyed the highest confidence of 
the company ; and so much more did it behove him not 
to wound that confidence ; so much the more reproachful 
would it be to countenance such a bill and such' a min* 
ister to betray a confidence so sacred, to take from the 
people all hope of integrity in those they trusted, and 
verify the profligate declaration of a profligate minister^ 
that every man had his price ; that much as I wished 
to see the honourable gentleman in high trust, I could 
not wish him to sacrifice for it his faith and honour* 
And though the gentleman was the best guardian of his 
own honour, yet I could not help giving my opinion that 
accepting the offer in question, circumstanced as he was, 
would fix upon his character indelible disgrace." Mr. 
Dempster thanked the members for the candour with 
which they had given their opinions ; he said the senti- 
ments of those who dissuaded his acceptance were so 
congenial with those of his own mind, that he should 
without delay inform Lord North that he could not ac- 


cept his offer* The bills however passed in spite of us, 
the injBuence of the crown bearing down all opposition. 
On those proceedings of parliament I gave my senti- 
ments to Mr. Samuel Adan;i3 of Boston, in the following 

"December 3, 1773^ 

Sir, — ^You ask me what political news. What can 
I saj, but that we are undone ? We are in the dead calm 
of corruption, which with more than Circean charm, fas- 
cinates every feeling of public virtue. If any thing can 
fix the enchantment beyoi|d a possibility of dissolution, 
it is eastern wealth and eastern manners. Unhappy 
East, what a fate is thine ! Doomed to be forever plun- 
dered by the west, with only the melancholy considera- 
tion of eventually undoing your plunderers. You minister 
poison in a cup of gold- Your fruit, like the apple of 
temptation, is precious to the sight, but poisonous in the 
taste ; fair, but fatal ! The East India regulating-bill has 
diverted the wealth of India into the direct channel for 
our destruction. For the future, the story of Lord CHve 
will be that of every military plunderer in the east ; that 
of Ceyx of every civil extortioner. It begins in blood 
and plunder, it ends in servility and dependence. The 
wealth would be insecure under the crimes by which it 
was acquired, without ministerial influi^ce and protec- 
tion to cover them from enquiry, or screen them from 
punishment. In a few years, the two houses of parlia- 
ment will be filled with Omrahs and Subbedars, nurtur- 
ed in the corruption and despotism of the East. What 
will be the consequence ? We must fall as Greece and 
Rome have fallen, in the same manner, and by the same 
means. In this prospect there is but one consolation. 
That liberty, when she abandons this country, will not, 
like Astraea, relinquish us forever ; but will fix her favour- 
ite seat in the rising regions of America. There may she 
rest, and spread her happy influence, till time shall be no 
more. But if we too must lose her, when she ascends 
the skies, we shall at least have the prerogative of show- 
ing her last, her parting steps. Adieu, &c." 

i69 LIFE OP 

In the spring of 1774, 1 sat out with Mr. and Mrs. Izard 
to make the tour of France and Italy. But previous to 
iny going I drew up a piece entitled, " A True State of the 
Proceedings in the Province of Massachusetts Bay,'' 
which has been attributed to Dr. Franklin because it was 
- left with him, as agent to have it printed. The purpose 
of it was to remove the unjust ana injurious impressions 
made by a report of a committee of the house of lords 
on the same subject. While at Paris I wrote " The Ap- 
peal to the Justice and Interests of the People of Great 
Britain," which I transmitted to my brother in London, 
who had it printed and published by Almon. This 
pamphlet went through five ^editions. One was printed 
by a vote of the town of New-Castle and distributed 
among the people. Another edition was also printed 
and distributed at the expense of the merchants in Lon- 
don trading to America. While we were at Rome we 
were acquainted with the Earl of Huntington and his 
nephew, who has since distinguished himself in Ame- 
rica under the title of Lord Rawdon, and is certainly 
among the most promising officers in the British army. 
Mr. Izard and myself were too zealous not to encounter 
the British peer in defence of our country. He argued 
like a gentleman, but I thought not with much ingenuity. 
Lord Rawdon never disclosed his sentiments. I observ- 
ed wherever I went, even in Italy, that all the papers 
and monthly productions contained every thing that was 
written in America on^ the subject of our dispute, and 
that the desire of enquiry into it pervaded all mankind. 
The opinion that her cause was ^ust and the wish that 
she might succeed, seemed almost universal. The Brit- 
ish name was clothed in Europe with terror and admira- 
tion. The able manner in which the Americans vindi- 
cated their constitutional rights, and the determined tone 
in which they declared thfeir resolution of resisting Great 
Britain if she persisted, gave the Europeans a very ex- 
alted idea of their spirit and abilities. Intelligence from 
England informed us of a sudden dissolution of parlia- 
ment. The meeting of the new one was a crisis in our 
afiairs from which the anxiety of my mind would not 

ARTHUR L£E« 263 

pennit me to be absent. I therefore gave up my inten- 
tion of wintering in Rome and Naples, and in November 
sat out post alone foe London. The weather was mo|( 
remarkably rigorous, and I travelled from Turin to Paris, 
and from Paris to London, through continued snow and 
ice. ^ 

The new parliament soon showed its complexion^ 
Indeed it was not long kept secret, that the dissolu- 
tion was a ministerial manoeuvre, for the purpose of car- 
rying on the war against America. The kmg's speech 
on opening this parliament was in fact a declaration of 
war. He told them that a most daring spirit of resist- 
ance and disobedience to the law, still unhappily prevail- 
, ed in the province of Massachusetts Bay, and had in di- 
vers parts broke forth in fresh violences of a very crimi- 
nal nature ; that these proceedings had been countenanc- 
ed and encouraged in other of his colonies, and unwar- 
rantable attempts had been made to obstruct the com- 
merce of this kingdon by unlawful combinations ; that 
he had taken such measures and given such orders as he 
judged most proper and effectual tor carrying into execu- 
tion the laws which were passed in the last session of the 
late parliament for the protection and security of the 
commerce of his subjects, and for the restoring and pre- 
serving peace, order, and good government in the province 
of the Massachusetts Bay. The address of the. commons 
corresponded with the spirit of the speech* Lord J. 
Cavendish moved as an amendment, to request that his 
majesty would be most graciously pleased to communi- 
cate the intelligence he had received from America to 
the house ; this was negatived 264 to 73. The whole 
of the session was passed with an entire obsequiousness 
to the measures of the minister; and he and his royal 
master were in an eyil hour armed with every power they 
desired for reducing America to unconditional stArrUssion* 
The reception of the petitions from America soon show- 
ed what use the king and his ministers meant to make of 
this parliamentary support. A petition arrived from the 
assembly of Delaware. I informed the secretary of state 
of having received such a petition, and my desire to pre- 


864 LIFE OP 

sent it to him that it might be delivered to the king. He 

received it frem me on , and on the 13th I receiv- 

id from him the following answer. 

^^Lord Dartmouth presents his compliments to Mr. 
Lee, and desires to see him on Monday next, at 10 

April — , 1775.'* 

The issue of thi? conference is contained in the follow- 
ing letter to the speaker of the assembly. 

" Qardsn Court, Middle Tsmplx, April 17, 1775, 

Sir, — Your letter containing the petition from the 
house of representatives to the king, arrived here after 
Dr. Franklin had sailed for Philadelphia. The petition 
was therefore put into my hands to deliver to Loni Dart- 
mouth. I accordingly gave it to his lordship, informing 
him of these circumstances, and of the wish of the house 
that it might be presented to his majesty. But his lord^ 
ship returned it to me this morning, with a declaration 
that as I was not authorised by the house, he, as secreta- 
ry of state, could not receive it from me for the purpose 
I desired. To deliver it to the king in the common way, 
if I were authorised so to do, would be ineffectual, be- 
cause there is no certainty of his reading it, and he never 
gives an answer but from the throne, or through one of 
his secretaries of state. The petition will therefore re- 
main here, to wait the further pleasure of the house. 
They who know and lament that petitions for redress of 
grievances from the different assemblies have been repeat- 
edly rejected, cannot but be persuaded that the promise 
of their being now attended to, is only a ministerial ma- 
noeuvre to divide the colonies, and draw off their atten- 
tion to and confidence in that which is their great shield 
and defence — ^union in general congress. Your consti- 
tution was so framed as to mortify that hope. To di- 
vide and to destroy, or ***** to fix this mer- 
ciless tyranny upon us, is their only endeavour. But I 
trust in God that the wisdom and virtue of our country- 


men will continue to render it inefiectual, and give us at 
length a happy issue out of all our troubles, by obtaining a 
full redress of grievances. I have the honour of being,&c. 
Signed, Arthur Lee. 

James Rinsey^ Esq. New Jersey?^ 

The year 1774 was an eventful year, and brought the 
American question to a crisis. In its commencement 
the ministry appeared determined upon measures of the 
most decided irritation, and even hostility. This I inti- 
mated in a letter to the ever to be lamented Dr. Warren, 
who was immortalized by his conduct and death in the 
action of Bunker's Hill. My letter was as follows* 

** Februart 20th, 1774. 

Sir, — I am obliged to you for giving mean oppor- 
tunity of thanking you for the efforts you have made in 
vindication of the just rights of America. Unless you 
substitute the intention for the act, you far overrate the 
merit of my services. The rights of my country are 
.with me sacred. It is my first duty to maintain them. 
The cause of liberty is the cause of virtue. 

<* I own the sloriotiB sabject fires my breast; 
And the so^'s darling pafiaion stands confest." 

I not only lament the attempts which have been made 
and are making to enslave us, as productive of great 
misery to America, but as fraught with danger to this 
country. Revering as I do the very name of England, 
and loving most sincerely the people, it adds infinitely to 
the afiliction of these proceedings that they must eventu- 
ally operate the ruin of this country.* Whatever alien- 
ates the affections of the colonies, must impair if not de- 
stroy that commerce, which is the great source of the 
riches, the strength, the glory of Great Britain. There 

* In the conjecture I made of the conaeqoenceB that would follow measnreSy I waf 
deceived, or rather mistaken. From this I mast except the impracticability of redacing 
America, the resistance that would in&Ilibly follow attempting it by force, the uor 
mense loss of men and expense that would attend it, and the independenoe, of Amfr. 
rica. In these I was not mistaken; bat in the efibct which the non-importatioQ 
woidd produce, the rain oC the credit and commerce of Great Britlihi, tb^ ffimiiiti- 
tion of her power, and the downfall of her empire, I was mistaken. A. L. 

VOL. I. ^ 34 


is at present a total stagnation of all public opposition 
here. Administration is therefore left at liberty to bend 
all their force against us. They seem eager to embrace 
the opportunity. The treatment of your petition, of Dr. 
Franklin, and of Mr. Temple, savour of the most malig- 
nant and persecuting disposition. In my opinion the ac- 
tive Americans here stand in daily peril of their lives. 
, It Vi^ill not indeed be an easy matter to destroy us by an 
English jury. But parliament is equal to any thing, and 
parliament is entirely under the direction of this, as you 
justly style it, all powerful administration. Either I am 
deceived, or times^ of great calamity and oppression are 
near. How they will end He only knows in whose hands 
are all the corners of the earth. In the mean time we 
have only to remember, that at every hazard we must be 
free. Adieu." 

I shall give a summary of the proceedings on the peti- 
tion mentioned in the above letter, which occasioned a 
duel and a very celebrated speech from Mr. Wedderburne, 
now Lord Loughborough. 

Some letters written to a Mr. Whately by Governor 
Hutchinson and lieutenant-governor Andrew Oliver, were 
laid before the assembly of Massachusetts. In these let- 
ters the writers of them had calumniated the people, en- 
deavoured to iqflame those who should read them, against 
the province, and suggested measures calculated to pre- 
vent all popular opposition to ministerial measures. Up- 
on these letters, which were original, and therefore could 
not be denied, the house of representatives voted a peti- 
tion to the king for the removal of the governor and 
lieutenant-governor. This petition they transmitted to 
their agent. Dr. Franklin, to be presented to the throne. 
I received also the following letter from their speaker. 

" Paotiuce MA.8IA.CHUBBTT9 Bat, Junc 25, 1773. 

Sir,-^I have received the commands of the house of 
representatives of this province, to inform you that they 
have lately had divers letters, signed Thomas Hutchinson, 
Andrew Uliver, &c. laid before them, and that they have 



Yoted as their sense, that the tendency and design of said 
letters appear to have been to overthrow the constitution 
of this government, and to introduce arbitrary power into 
this province. They have also agreed upon and passed 
an address to his majesty, praying that his excellency 
Thomas Hutchinson, governor, and the Hon. Andrew 
Oliver, lieutenant-governor of this province, may be re- 
moved from the posts they hold within the province, which 
they have directed Dr. Franklin to lay before his majesty, 
and have also directed him to employ you as council upon ^ 
this occasion ; an^^as the persons aforementioned have 
by this their conduct rendered themselves yery obnoxious 
to the people here, and have entirely lost their confidence, 
they doubt not you will employ your interest and influ*> 
ence to support the petition above mentioned, and do all 
in your power that it may have its desired effect. 

1 am with great respect your humble servant, 

Thomas Gushing, Speaker. 

Arthur LUy Esq?^ 

As I was at this time only a student of law, I could 
not appear as counsel in support of the petition. But I 
addressed the following observations to Lord Dartmouth, 
under the signature of Raleigh. 

" My Lord, — The report to be made upon the petition 
from the house of representatives of Massachusetts Bay 
against their governors, will have so decisive an influence 
on the people of that province, that I feel myself com- 
pelled to address your lordship on the subject. A dis- . 
covery is made by letters under their own hands that the 
governor and lieutenant-governor had been secretly la- 
bouring to subvert the chartered rights of the colony ; to 
subject the people to arbitrary government ; and to sub- 
due them by military force. It appeared that to accom- 
plish these ends they had painted the proceedings of the 
people in the most false and odious colours, forging false- 
hoods where misrepresentations would not suffice. AH 
this was done under the cloak of secret and confidential 
correspondence, that the mischief might come upon the 


?68 LIFE OF 

people unforeseen, the causes uoknown, and the authprs 
undiscovered. The people were to be the victims of a 
secret information ; they were to be condemned w^ithout 
being heard ; and punished with the heaviest of all ca- 
lamities, the loss pf their rights and liberties, without 
being apprized of the accusation or enjoying a possibili- 
ty of defence. The persons who contrived this atro- 
cious and (upon principle it cannot be deemed less) this 
treasonable conspiracy against the constitution, stipulated 
the expected rewards. It was natural that this discov- 
ery should exasperate the people to an extreme. They 
saw in the persons of those who were planning their de- 
struction, men bound to them by all the ties of fellow 
citizens and the obligations of gratitude ; men who had 
been long cherished and trusted among them, and who 
had always professed the most zealous attachment which 
virtue and gratitude could inspire to their rights and lib- 
erties. This was more especially the case of their chief 
governor, who was at that very time practising. every art 
to fix in the minds of the people an exalted opinion of 
his warmest affection for them, and of his unremitting 
endeavours to promote their best interests at the court 
of Great Britain. They saw besidei^ in one mode of 
their attempt against them something peculiarly malig- 
nant. The ministry were sufficiently disposed to adopt 
every severity against them. Governor Bernard and 
the commissioners were sufficient to keep up their pre- 
judices and passion. To poison the minds of those in 
opposition, and by that means to deprive the people of 
every benefit either from the efforts of tjiat opposition or 
from a change of administration. This my lord was the 
diabolical plan of Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Oliver. Had 
the popular indignation been followed by the most im- 
mediate and tragical consequences no one could have 
been surprised. Happily however the very men whom 
these governors had aspe];sed as the sowers of sedition 
and promoters of outrage, prevailed upon them to trust 
to his majesty's justice for redress. For this purpose the 
house of representatives have, in an humble petition, im- 
plored his majesty's intervention to remove these men 

▲RTHUR LEE. &69, 

because tbey have lost all trust and confideHce with the 
pepple. It is to this prayer to which you are now to 
advise an answer. It is well worth considering my lord 
what will be the consequence of an ungracious, irritating 
answer* For some years past the people of America 
and those of Boston in particular, have been abused, mis- 
represented, and oppressed beyond the example of the 
worst of times. They have seen for a series of years 
every representation against them received ; every ap- 
plication/or them rejected. When the authors of the 
secret inmrmation which tended to bring upon them the 
displeasure of their sovereign, the resentment of parlia- 
ment, and to subvert their liberties, were providentially 
discovered, and their representations proved false and 
wicked, the consequence has invariably been the encour- 
agement and reward of those so detected. The discov- 
ery of Governor Bernard's false and malignant letters, 
with the frauds he committed in office, served only to 
make laim a baronet, with what is equivalent to an enor- 
mous pension. ,Mr. Oliver was charged upon the oaths 
of several of his majesty's council and by their unani- 
mous resolution, with a most dangerous breach of trust, 
in having forged minutes of their board and authen- 
ticated them on oath, for the purpose of justifying a mas- 
sacre committed by a licentious soldiery^ and to throw 
the blame of it on the people. What my lord was the 
consequence ? Not punishment ^ but promotion. The peo- 
ple saw with astonishment and horror this very man, thus 
stigmatized, immediately promoted to be their lieutenant 
governor. These are facts my Iwd, of public notoriety ; 
facts which, spoken to stones, would make them capa- 
ble of hearing. Rewards have followed crimes, as con- 
stantly as light the sun. Promotion and emolument in 
America have been exactly proportioned to men's perfidy 
to the people, and their avowed enmity to their imme- 
diate country. No people can be so dull as not to feel 
those juijuries ; no people can be so pusillanimous as not 
to resent them. Reiterated oppressions, detections, com- 
plaints and disappointments, have worked up men's 
minds to the greatest degree of di^scontfent. ♦ * * 
•. * * [The rest here is lost.] 

270 LIFE OP 

Dr. Franklin gave the Earl of Dartmouth information 
of it in a letter dated August 21st, 1773, in which the 
Dr. used this extraordinary expression, ^^ And it is said 
that, having lately discovered, as they think, the authors 
of their grievances to be some of their own people, their 
resentment against Great Britain is thence mvch abated.^^ 
The resentment of a province against Great Britain, was 
a tone somewhat higher than is commonly assumed by 
even the mightiest monarch to the smallest state. There 
is not an instance I believe of the crown using such lan- 
guage to the most insignificant provincial assembly. The 
expression was at least not very guarded. But in fact, 
Dr. Franklin thought the ministry at his feet. He soon 
felt his mistake ; the petition was heard before the privy 
council on the 29th of January 1774. In the mean 
time a question arose how these original letters came into 
the hands of those who laid them, before the house 
of representatives. Mr. Whately, to whom they were 
written, was dead. When they were written he was 
member of parliament and very influential with Mr. 
George Grenville. His brother, who had the papers of 
the deceased, could give no other account of it, but that 
Mr. John Temple had leave from him to examine letters 
from his brother's American correspondents, from which 
he supposed that gentleman had taken the letters in 
question. This he charged him with in the public 
papers, confessing however that he did not know those 
identical letters were in the papers he intrusted to Mr. 
Temple's examination. This charge was circulated with 
the utmost industry and acrimony by Mr. Wedderburne 
and other ministerial agents. Mr. Temple determined 
to send Mr. Whately a challenge. Mr. Izard bore it, 
and offered to be his second. Mr. Whately accepted 
the meeting, but refused to have a second. Four o'clock, 
in the ring at Hyde Park was the appointment. Mr. 
Izard and myself went to the park in his carriage to 
attend the issue. On our way to the ring our attention 
was drawn to another quarter by the report of pistols. 
Thither we went ami met Mr. Whately coming from the 
field of action, having i:eceived a slight wound in the 


breast and one on the shoulder a little behind ; both with 
a sword. He made no charge to us of unfair play on the 
part of his antagonist. Mr. Izard offered his carriage to 
carry him home, which he accepted, and Mr. Izard ac- 
companied him. I went in quQst of Mr. Temple, and 
we walked together to Mr. Izard's house. He informed 
me that some persons being at the ring Mr. Whately and 
he agreed to go to a different part Mr. Whately had a 
sword but no pistols. He lent him obe of his, they fired 
without effect, and then appealed to the sword ; at which 
he found his antagonist so little skilled that his life was 
at his mercy ; that he wounded him slightly in order to 
make him beg his pardon. A whisper however was soon 
circulated that Mr. Temple had attempted to stab his 
opponent when down. To corroborate which, a declara- 
tion from Mr. Whately supported by the affidavits of an 

- alehouse-keeper and some stable-boy were published, 
affirming that when Mr. Whately fell on his face the 
other stabbed him behind. As this business was in fact 
political and concerned America, I wrote a justification 
of Mr. Temple, in which I stated that Mr. Whately had 
accused him on mere suspicion; that he refused to have 
seconds ; came without pistols ; made no charge against 
Mr. Temple when we met him, warm from the encoun- 
ter, and most likely to have exclaimed against such treat- 
ment ; neither did those who had parted the combatants 
and were with him, say a word of it. That the slight 
wound on the shoulder, which gave countenance to this 
malignant charge, might well have happened from Mr. 
Temple being in the act of thrusting, when his opponent 
fell, and by that means unintentionally touching him on 

' the shoulder. That it was an absurdity to suppose, that 
when it was acknowledged Mr. Temple could from his 
superior sk411 have wounded him fairly, he would attempt 
to do it foully. That the charge came with additional 
ill grace from one who had positively refused to have 
seconds, and who coming to the field without pistols 
seemed desirous to refer the dispute to the sword. I am 
inclined to think that the public was satisfied tha'f this 
charge with its contemptible affidavits was fabricated by 

»78 LIFE OF 

Messrs. Wedderburne and Manduit^ and had no real 
foundation- At the close of these proceedings Dr« 
Franklin came forward with the following address to the 

" Sirs, — Finding that two gentlemen have been unfor- 
tunately engaged m a duel about a transaction and its 
circumstances of which both of them are totally ignorant 
and innocent, I think it incumbent on me to declare (for 
the prevention of farther mischief, as far as such a decla- 
ration may contribute to prevent it,) that I alone am the 
person who obtained and transmitted to Boston the let- 
ters in question. Mr. W. could not communicate them, 
because they wer^ never in his possession; and for the 
same reason they could not be taken from him by Mr. T. 
They were not of the nature of private letters between 
friends. They were written by public officers to persons 
in public stations, on public . affairs, and intended to pro- 
cure public measures. They were therefore handed to 
other public persons, who naight be influenced by them 
to produce those measures- Their tendency was to in- 
cense the mother country against her colonies, and by 
the steps they recommended) to widen the breach thej 
effected. The chief caution expressed with regard to 
privacy, was to keep their contents from the colony 
agents, who the writers apprehended might return them, 
or copies of them, to America. That apprehension was 
it seems well founded,. for the first agent who laid his 
hands on them thought it his duty to transmit them to his 

Craven Street, Dec. 25th, 1773." 

Mr. Wedderburne in his speech before the council was 
pointedly severe against this letter. " After the mis- 
chiefs, said he, of this concealment had been left for five 
months to have their full operation, at length comes out 
a letter which is. expressive of the coolest and most de- 
liberate malevolence. My lords, what poetic fiction only 
had penned for the breast of a cfuel African, Dr. Frank- 
lin has realized and transcribed from his own. His too 

ARTHUR L£E. 273 

is the language of Zanga. Know then 'twas I. I forg- 
ed the letter — I disposed the picture — I hated— I despis- 
ed — and I destroy.'* 

The greater part of his speech was a violent philippic 
against the Doctor. He was certainly eloquent and art- 
ful. Insomuch that notwithstanding the great decency 
and decorum that distinguish their lordships, he made 
them so far forget themselves and the character in which 
they officiated, as to cry out ^hear him, hear him.' There 
were present with the lord president other lords, among 
whom was the Archbishop of Canterbury. The decision 
"WBs ^^ that the petition should be dismissed as groundless, 
vexatious and scandalous, and calculated only for the se- 
ditious purpose of keeping up a spirit of clamour and dis- 
content in the said province." 

In August Richard Penn arrived with a petition for the 
throne from the general congress of America, which that 
august body desired might be presented by him, and the 
agents for the several colonies. Mr. BoUan and myself 
were the only agents in town. Mr. Bollan, Dr. Frank- 
lin, and myself, were the only agents that would act. 
We presented the petition through Lord Dartmouth to 
the throne, and received an answer from that nobleman 
that his majesty had received it very graciously, and for 
its importance, would lay it before his two houses of par- 
liament as soon as they should meet. The ministerial 
tone was now much softened, because the petition and 
address to the people were conceived in terms of such 
moderation and good sense, that they made a very fa- 
vourable impression upon the public mind. I knew the 
king and his ministers too well to trust to their profes- 
sions. I therefore thought it necessary to warn my coun- 
trymen against the delusion of these appearances. . With 
this view I wrote to my brother R. H. Lee, who was a 
member of congress, the following letters,* which I knew 
he would communicate with effect. 

The alarming procedure of the British king and parlia- 

^ * Tbe letters here ipoken of» with a note contunmg the complimentary ezpniH 
oom of Lord Chatham on the tabject of the addieii of cdngre«» will be found in 
No. L Appendix, amongit the <«Lettenof A. Lee^** 

VOL. I. 35 



Messrs. Wedderburne and Manduit, an^' v^flffess 
foundation. At the close of these ^,^s for the 

Franklin came forward with the foP ;;^*^petition to 

printers. ^ ^eir loyalty, 

. ^^tf^'ffas transmitted 
" Sirs, — Finding that two r ji^ agents in London, 

innately engaged m a duel ^ 

circumstances of which bo^ -/^^'amin Franklin, Wil- 

and innocent, I think it i- . /le^, Tboipas Life, Esq., 
the prevention of farthe ^iarks Garth, Esq. 

ration may contribute ' ^ ^ ^ . . 

person who obtained ' ' P^'^adelphia, Oct. 26th, 1774. 

ters in question. ? * 4cffo^ the strongest proof of our 
because they wer <///^ attachment to the happiness of 
same reason the ,^ ^^ liberty, when we commit the 
They were no J^^^ 9^^^* W® desire you will deliver 

friends. Th .if his majesty; and after it has been 

in public st " /i^A it may be made public through the 
cure publ' / Vith the list of grievances. As we hope 
other pv' /^nce'from the spirit and virtue of the na- 

to proc* /earnest desire that the most effectual course 
cense ,> '^i^^^'^J ^s possible to furnish the trading cities 
the /' /y&cturiiig towns throughout the united kingdom 
eff' '*-fitiemoTrdl to the people of Great Britain. We 
p. '^^'I^ot but your good sense and discernment will lead 
;^^ avail yourselves of every assistance that may be 
/^gd from the advice and friendsliip of all great and 
^ men, who may incline to aid the cause of liberty 
y fliankind. The gratitude of America, expressed in 
i^ enclosed vote of Uianks, we desire may be conveyed 
^0 the deserving objects of it in the manner you think 
0ay be most acceptable to them. It is proposed that 
another congress be held on the 10th of May next, at this 
place ; but in the mean time we beg the favour of you 
gentlemen, to transmit to the speakers of the several as- 
semblies the earliest information of the most authentic 
accounts you cstn collect, of all such conduct and designs 
of ministry or parliament as it may concern America to 

We are, &c. &c. 

Signed, Henry Middleton, PreiU:^^ 




e remainder of this Gommeneem^at of a history of 

erican revolution, by Mr. Lee, has beem lost; The 

ds here a letter from Thomas Cussing to bitn, 

ed as speaker of the assembly of Massacho- 

the years 1769, 1770, 1771, and 177:2. It 

iten after Mr. Cushing's return from the first 

js at Philadelphia. He had corresponded with- 

.lee while he acted as agent in London of the colony 


" BosTOw, Feb. — , 1775. 

Dear Sir,— I ato obliged to you for your favour of the 
6th Dec. last. I heartily rejoice to hear you are safely 
arrived in London ; we iare mioch obliged to you for travel- 
ling night and day from Rome, in order to do what ser- 
vice you can. at so important a crisis. The people in 
America are not at all dismayed at the king's speech; 
they wish for peace, and for an amicable and equitable 
settlement of this unhappy controversy; but if their hopes 
should be called off by the intemperate and violent con- 
duct of the mother country, after the conciliatory offers 
that have been made by the continental congress, by 
which they have reduced the dispute to mere matter of 
speculation, and administration should determine to carry 
into execution the late acts of parliament by a military 
force, the people of America I am persuaded will make 
the last appeal. They are determined life and liberty 
shall go together. You need not be concerned ; firm- 
ness. and unanimity prevail through all the colonies, the 
association of the continental congress is sacredly adher- 
ed to, and 1 have just been informed that the merchants 
at New-York have obliged a vessel that arrived there 
from Scotland since the first of February, to return im- 
mediately without breaking bulk. Our people are prompt 
and forward in their military exercises. There never 
was since we have been a people such a military spirit 
pevailing as at present ; but God forbid we should set- 
tle this dispute by arms. May the great Governor of the 
universe direct the councils of the nation, and lead them 
into, such measures as may restore peace, harmony, and 



happiness to both countries* I had the pleasure of see- 
ing your brother, Col. Lee, at the congress at Philadel- 
phia, and spending many an agreeable hour with him ; 
he is a steady friend to his country, and an able defend- 
er of her rights* Pray let me hear from you by every 
opportunity, and advise me constantly of the designs of 
administration relative to America. 

I am with great truth your sincere friend and humble 
servant, Thomas Gushing. 

* Arthur Leey Esq. 

P. S. The terms of accommodation between Great 
Britain and the colonies, which you and I have joined in 
judgment in, and have heretofore thought reasonable^ 
happen to be approved by all the leading men in Ameri- 
ca, as you will perceive by the resolutions of the conti- 
nental congress. T. C." 



« Paris, June 7, 1779. 

To his excellency Mon. le Cotot6. d'Aranda. 
Mr. Lee has the honour to present his respects to the 
Ambassador of Spain ; and to beg him to transmit to his 
Court the annexed memorial. 

'< Paris, Judo 6, 1779; 

To his excellency Count Florida Blanca, Prime Minis- 
ter of Spain. 

I have the honour of enclosing to your Excellency a 
memorial, which the opportunities I have had of knowing 
the temper and circumstances of Great Britain, make me 
presume to submit to your consideration. The earnest 
desire I have of rendering some service to Spain, and the 
common interest that must subsist in the success of the 
war, should it happen, are the motives, and I hope will 
be the apology, for what I offer. 

I have the honour, &C4 Arthur Lee." 

** Paris, June 6» 1779. 

Memorial to his excellency Count Florida Blanca. 

The English having taken possession of Savannah, in 
Georgia, are extending themselves in that state, so as to 
form a connexion with and establish an influence over 
the Indian nations that border on all that country. They 
design also to possess themselves of Fort Royal, in South 
Carolina, and if possible^ of Charleston. These acqui- 
sitions, if they are suffered, with their contiguous pos- 
sessions, will give them such a command upon that coast, 
and in the Gulf, as well as such means of exciting the 
savages, and seconding their enterprises against the 
neighbouring territories of Spain, as may be difficult to 
resist, if they are not prevented. What renders it im- 
practicable for the Americans to repel the enemy, is their 
superiority at sea^ which at the same time that it sup- 


ports their posts on the land, enables them to make di- 
versions in various quarters, so as to keep up a general 
alarm, and prevent our force from being united in any 
one point. With this view, they have very lately invad- 
ed the state of Virginia, in the bay of Chesapeake, to with- 
h(M the aid which that state would send to South Caro- 
lina and Georgia. In this situation, it is in his majesty's 
power to give very effectual assistance to the invaded 
states, and prevent the enemy from making such danger- 
ous establishments and such an augmentation of their 
power* The naval force of the English in Georgia and 
South Carolina, will consist of a fifty gun ship, the Ex- 
periment lately sailed, and three frigates. In liie bay 
of Chesapeake there are a sixty-four and forty^fuor gun 
ship, with some armed tedders. A small squadron there- 
fore of three or four large ships and a few frigates, sent 
from the Havannah^ would destroy the enemy's ships iu 
Georgia, South Carolina and Chesapeake bay ; and de-^ 
liver their troops into the hands of the Americans. 

The state of the enemy's fleets in Europe and the 
West Indies, will not permit them at present to augment 
their force on the coast of America* The squadron ac-* 
tually sailed, under Admiral Arbuthnot to . New-York, 
consists of four ships of the line and one frigate ; name- 
ly, the Robust 74, the Russel 74, the Europe 64, the 
Alliance 64, and the Guadaloupe 28. As this squadron 
must support the operations of their main army, and pro- 
tect Halifax, Rhode Island and New- York, it is not prob- 
able they will detach any additional force from thence 
to the southward, so that their armaments there, if not 
withdrawn, must necessarily fall a sacrifice to a Spanish 

<< Paris, DeceQiber 16| 1779: 

To his excellency Count Florida Blanca. 

Sir,— You will have the goodness to permit my recall- 
ing to your consideration the facts I alrea(][y had the 
honour of stating to you, relative to the plan of the com- 
mcm enemy, to establish themselves in Georgia and 
Sottth Gtrolinai in order to carry m more effectiully the 


war against the possessions of Spain in America, and 
against the United States. I have the most undoubted 
intelligence that they are more and more determined on 
pursuing that plan. The good intentions of Count d'Es- 
taign to drive them from Georgia having unfortunately 
failed, and the departure of the French fleet having left 
them again a decided superiority on our coast, must give 
them fresh encouragement to prosecute their enterprise, 
and will render the assistance of his Catholic Majesty's 
squadron at the Havannah absolutely necessary, to pre- 
vent its succeeding. Suffer me therefore to entreat most 
earn^tly your excellency's attention to this, if other 
more near and important objects of the war should have 
hitherto diverted it." 

" Sir, — I received in due time the two letters of the 
7th and 25 th of June, with which your honour favour- 
ed me, in both which you explain the situation of Eng- 
land, and the plan which you think the powers at war 
with that crown ought to pursue, joined with various 
observations relative to the situation of these united 
American provincesi* I can assure you sir, that I have 
read with great pleasure and consideration, the wise and 
prudent reflections contained in those letters. I assure 
you I shall make a proper use of them. I embrace thi^ 
opportunity of offering you my best services, and of as- 
suring you of my prayer for the preservation of your life 
many years. Count Florida Blanca. 

Arthur Zee, £99.'^ 

280 LIFE OF 


Instnietioni to Benjamin fVanklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, Commiflnoneiv 
appointed by the Congreaa of the United Statee of America to the Court of 

" There is herewith delivered to you a plan of a trea- 
ty with his most Christian majesty of France, approved 
of in congress on the part of the United States of Ame- 

It is the wish of congress that the treaty should be 
concluded, and you are hereby instructed to use every 
means in your power for concluding it conformably to the 
plan you have received. If you shall find that to be im- 
practicably, you are hereby authorized to relax the de- 
mands of the United States, and to enlarge their offers, 
agreeably to the following directions. If his most Chris- 
tian majesty shall not consent that the subjects, people, 
and inhabitants of the United States shall have the privi- 
leges proposed in the second article, then the United 
States ought not to give the subjects of his most Chris- 
tian majesty the privileges proposed in the first article ; 
but that the United States shall give to the subjects of 
his most Christian majesty the' same privileges, liberties, 
and immunities, at least, and the like favour in all things, 
which any foreign nation the most favoured shall have, 
provided his most Christian majesty shall give to the sub-^ 
jects, people, and inhabitants of the United States the 
I same benefits, privileges, and immunities, which any the 

\ most favoured foreign nation now has, uses, or etijoys. 

And in case neither of these propositions of equal advan- 
tages are agreed to, then the whole of the said articles 
are to be rejected, rather than obstruct the farther pro- 
gress of the treaty. The third article must be insisted 
on. The sixth article ought to be obtained if possible^ 
but should be waived rather than the treaty should be in- 


* • 

terrupted by insistibg upon it ; his most Christian majes* 
ty agreeing nevertheless to use his interest and influence 
to procure passes from the states mentioned in this arti- 
cle, for the vessels of the subjects and inhabitants of 
the United States upon the Mediterranean. The seventh 
article will probably be attended with some difficulty. If 
you find his most Christian majesty determined not to 
agree to it, you are empowered to add to it as follows* 
That the United States will never be subject, or acknow- 
ledge allegiance or obedience to the king, or crown, or 
parliament of Great Britain, nor grant to that nation any 
exclusive trade, or any advantages or privileges in trade^ 
more than his most Christian majesty ; neither shall any 
treaty for terminating the present war between the king 
of Great Britain and the United States, or any war which 
may be declared by the king of Great Britain against 
his most Christian majesty, in consequence of this trea* 
ty, take effect until the expiration of six calendar months 
after the negotiation for that purpose shall have been du- 
ly notified, in the former instance by the United States 
to his most Christian majesty, and in the other instance 
by his most Christian majesty to the United States, to 
the end that both these parties may be included in the 
peace, if they think proper. The eleventh and twelfth 
articles are to be waived, if you find that the treaty will 
be interrupted by insisting on them. You will press the 
thirteenth article, but let not the fate of the treaty depend 
upon obtaining it. If his most Christian majesty should 
be unwilling to agree to the fifteenth and twenty-fifth 
articles, you are directed to consent that the goods and 
effects of enemies on board the ships and vessels of either 
party shall be liable to seizure and confiscation. The 
twenty-fourth article is not to be insisted on. You will 
solicit the court of France for an immediate supply of 
twenty or thirty thousand muskets and bayonets, and a 
large supply of ammunition and brass field pieces, to be 
sent under convoy by France. The United States en- 
gage for the payment of the arms, artillery, and ammu- 
nition, and to indemnify France for the expense of the 
convoy. Engage a few good engineers in the service of 
VOL. I. 36 

882 LIFE OF 

the United States. It is highly probable th^t France 
means not to let the United States sink in the present 
contest ; but as the difficulty of obtaining true accounts 
of our condition may cause an opinion to hp entertained 
that we are able to support the war on our own strength 
and resources longer than * in fact we can do, it will be 
proper for you to press for the immediate and explicit 
declaration of France in our favour, upon a suggestion 
that a re-union with Great Britain may be the consequence 
of a delay. 

Should Spain be disinclined to our cause from an ap- 
prehension of danger to her dominions in South America, - 
you are empowered to give the strongest assurances that 
that crown will receive no molestation from the United 
States in the possession of those territories. You will 
transmit to us the most speedy and full intelligence of 
your progress in this business, and of any other Europe- 
an transaction that it may import us to know. 

You are desired to get the best and earliest informa- 
tion that you possibly can of any negotiations that the 
court of London may be carrying on, for obtaining foreign 
mercenaries to be sent against these states the next cam- 
paign ; and if any such design is in agitation, you will 
endeavour to prevail with the court of France to exert 
its influence in the most effectual manner, to prevent the 
execution of such designs. You are desired to obtain' as 
early as possible a public acknowledgment of the inde- 
pendency of these states on the crown and parliament of 
Great Britain, by the court of France. In conducting 
this important business the congress have the greatest 
confidence in your address, abilities, vigilance, and attach- 
ment to the interests of the United States, and wish you 
every success. 

By order of congress, 

John Hancock, Presid^tJ^ 


« In Congress, October 16th, 1776. 

Additional instructions to Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, 
and Arthur Lee, Commissioners from the United States 
of America to the king of France. 

Whilst you are negotiating the affair you are charged 
with at the court of France, you will have opportunities 
of conversing frequently with the ministers and agents 
of other European princes and states residing there. 

You shall endeavour, when you find occasion fit and 
convenient, to obtain from them a recognition of our in- 
dependency and sovereignty, and to conclude treaties of 
peace, amity, and commerce, between their princes or 
states and us ; provided that the same be not inconsistent 
with the treaty you shall make with his most Christian 
majesty, that they do not oblige us to become a party in 
any war which may happen in consequence thereof, and 
that the immunities, exemptions, privileges, protection, 
defence, and advantages, or the contrary, thereby stipu- 
lated, be equal and reciprocal. If that cannot be effect- 
ed, you shall to the utmost of your power prevent their 
taking part with Great Britain in the war which his Bri- 
tannic majesty prosecutes against us, or entering into of- 
fensive alliances with that king, and protest and present 
remonstrances against the same, desiring the interposition, 
mediation, and good ofiices, on our behalf, of bis most 
Christian majesty the king of France, and of any other 
princes or states whose dispositions are not hostile to- 
wards us. In case overtures be made to you by the 
ministers or agents of any European princes or states, 
for commercial treaties between them and us, you may 
conclude such treaties accordingly. 

By order of congress, 

John Hancock, PresiAent?^ 

"In Congress, October 22d, 1776, Resolvedj that the 
commissioners going to the court of France, be directed 
to procure from that court, at the expense of these Unit- 
ed States, either by purchase or loan, eight line of battle 
ships, of 74 and 64 guns, well manned and fitted in every 


respect for service ; that as these ships may be useful in 
proportion to the quickness with which they reach North 
America, the commissioners be directed to expedite this 
negotiation with all possible diligence. 

John Hancock, PresidenL^^ 

Letters of Instruction, &c. from the Committee of For- 
eign Affairs to the Commissioners in France, and 
from them to the Committee. 

*' Baltimore, Martx^akDi December 21, 1776. 

Honourable Gentlemen, — After expressing our hopes 
that this will find you all three safely fixed at Paris, we 
proceed with pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. 
Deane's letter of the first of October. When We reflect 
on the character and views of the court of London, it 
ceases to be a wonder that the British ambassador and 
all other British agents should employ every means that 
tended to prevent European powers, but France more 
especially, from giving America aid in this war. Pros- 
pects of accommodation, it is well known, would effec- 
tually prevent foreign interference, and therefore without 
one serious design of accommodating on any principles 
but the absolute submission of America, the delusive idea 
of conciliation hath been industriously suggested on both 
sides the water, that under cover of this dividing and 
aid-withholding prospect, the vast British force sent to 
America might have the fairest chance of succeeding. 
And this policy hath in fact done considerable injury to 
the United States, as we shall presently show, by a just 
detail of this campaign, for it is not yet ended. You 
know, gentlemen, that at the moment a potent land and 
marine force was preparing to be sent here, an act was 
passed for appointing commissioners, whom too many 
expected were to give peace to America. As therefore 
the war might be soon concluded, so were our military 
arrangements accommodated, and the troops taken into 
service the last spring, consisting of regular corps and 
bodies of militia, were all engaged for short periods. With 
these the compaign beguii in various parts of North Ame- 
rica. Dr. Franklin is so well acquainted with the pro- 

ARTHUR LEE. * 285 

gress of the war in Canada, previous to his departure, 
that we need only observe the campaign has ended as 
favourably for us in that quarter, as we could reasonably 
expect. The enemy having been able to pierce no far- 
ther than Crown Point, after a short stay, and recon- 
noitering General Gates's army at Ticonderoga, thought 
proper to recross the lake, and leave us in quiet posses- 
sion of these passes. General Gates having left a proper 
force at Ticonderoga, and on the communication, retired 
with the rest of his troops. New-York and its neigh- ^ 
bourhood not being defensible by an army singly, against 
a strong land and sea force acting in conjunction, was 
of necessity yielded to the enemy, after some contest ; 
General Washington retiring after the situation of the 
country above Kingsbridge no longer enabled the enemy 
to receive aid from their ships. General Howe having 
stopped here, and General Carleton at Crown Point, ef- 
fectually disappointed the great object of joining the two 
armies. The latter, as we have said, returning to Can- 
ada, and the former retreating from the White Plains 
towards New-York, gave us a favourable prospect of see- 
ing a happy end put to this dangerous campaign. How- 
ever, many causes have concurred in producing an unlucky 
reverse of fortune ; the nature of the country, the un- 
common fineness of the weather even to this day, and 
above all the short enlistments, which gave the soldiery 
an opportunity of going home, tired as they were with 
the operations of an active summer. When General 
Howe retreated from the White Plains, he halted hisf 
whole army on the North River, between Dobb's Ferry 
and Kingsbridge, where he remained for some time. 
Having effected so little of the great business that brought 
him here, and the season allowing him time for it, most 
men were of opinion that the next attempt would be to 
get possession of Philadelphia by a march through the 
Jerseys, whilst a fleet should be sent up the Delaware to 
facilitate the enterprise. To guard against such a ma- 
noeuvre, General Washington crossed the North River 
with all the battalions that had been raised to the west- 
ward of it, leaving General Lee, with the eastern troops, 

286 LIFE OP 

to guard the pass of the high lands on Hudson River. In 
this situation of things, General Howe made a sudden 
attack on Fort Washington with the greatest part of his 
army, and carried it with a considerable loss : here he 
made near 3000 of our men prisoners. By this event it 
became unnecessary longer to hold Fort Lee, or Fort 
Constitution as it was formerly called, which is on the 
west side of the North River, nearly opposite to Fort 
Washington. It had therefore been determined to aban- 
don Fort Lee, but before the stores could be all removed, 
the enemy came suddenly upon it, and the garrison re* 
treated, leaving some of their baggage and stores behind. 
About this time General Howe became possessed of a 
letter, (by the agency of some wicked person, who con- 
trived to get it from the express) written by General 
Washington to the Board of War, in which he had given 
an exact account when the time of service of all our bat- 
talions would expire, and his apprehensions that the 
men would not re-enlist, without first going home to see 
their families and friends. Possessed of this intelligence, 
the opportunity was carefully watched, and a vigorous , 
impression actually made at the very crisis when our 
army in the Jerseys was reduced to 3000 men, by the re- 
tiring of numbers and the sickness of others, and before 
our militia could in this extensive country, be brought up 
to supply their places. The enemy marched rapidly 
on through the Jerseys, whilst our feeble army was 
obliged to retreat from post to post until it crossed ''the 
Delaware at Trenton where about 2500 militia from 
Philadelphia joined the general. Since General Howe's 
arrival on the border of the Delaware various manoBu- 
vres and stratagems have been practised to effect a pas- 
sage over the river, but they have hitherto failed. Gen- 
eral Washington's small army is placed along the west 
side of Delaware, from CorrilPs ferry to within fourteen 
miles of Philadelphia ; with the gondolas and one frig- 
ate of 32 guns, and other armed vessels on the river 
above the cheveaux dejirise over the passage of it. Gen. 
Lee, who had crossed the North River with as many of 


the eastern troops as could be spared from the defence 
of the high lands, (either to join Gen. Washington or to 
act on the enemies' rear, as occasion might point out) 
was the other day unfortunately surprised and made 
prisoner by a party of 7U light horse, who found him 
in a house a few miles in the rear of his army with his 
domestics only. This loss though great, will in some 
degree be repaired for the present by Gen. Gates, who 
we understand has joined the army commanded by Gen- 
Lee, and who we have reason to think has by this time 
effected a junction of his force with that of Gen. Wash- 
ington. As the militia are marching from various quar- 
ters to reinforce the general, if the enemy do not quickly 
accomplish their wishes of possessing Philadelphia, we 
hope not only to have that city, but to «ee Gen. Howe 
retreat as fast as he advanced through the Jerseys. 
Gen. Clinton, with a fleet in which it is said he carried 
8000 men, has gone from New- York through the Sound ; 
some suppose for Rhode Island, but neither his destina- 
tion nor its consequences are yet certainly known to us. 
Thus gentlemen we have given you a true detail of the 
progress and present state of our affairs, which, although 
not in so good a posture as they were two months ago, are 
by no means in so bad a way as the emissaries of the 
British court will undoubtedly represent them. If the 
great land and sea force with which we have been at- 
tacked, be compared with the feeble state which the 
commencement oif this war found us with respect to mili- 
tary stores of all kinds, soldiers, clothing, navy and reg- 
ular force, and if the infinite art be considered with 
which Great Britain hath endeavoured to prevent our 
getting these necessaries from foreign parts, which has 
m part prevailed, the wonder will rather be that our 
enemies have made so little progress than that they 
have made sd much. AH views of accommodation with 
Great Britain, but on principles of peace as independ- 
ent states, and in a manner perfectly consistent with the 
treaties our commissioners may make with foreign states, 
being totally at an end, since the declaration of inde- 
pendence and the embassy to the court of France, con- 


gress have directed the raising 94 battalions of infantry 
with some cavalry. Thirteen frigates from 24 to 36 
guns are already launched and fitting, and two ships of 
the line with five more frigates are ordered to be put on 
the stocks. We hear the levies are going on well in the 
different states. Until the new army is collected the mi- 
litia must curb the enemies' progress. The very consid- 
erable force that Great Britain has already in North Ame- 
rica, the possibility of recruiting it here within their own 
quarters, by force and fraud together, added to the rein- 
forcements that may be. sent from Europe, and the diffi- 
culty of finding funds in the present depressed state of 
American commerce, all conspire to prove incontestably, 
that if France desires to preclude .the possibility of 
North America being ever reunited with Great Britain, 
now is the favourable moment for establishing the glory, 
strength, and commercial greatness of the former king- 
dom, by the ruin of her ancient rival. A decided part 
now taken by the court of Versailles, and a vigorous 
engagement in the war in union with North America, 
would with ease sacrifice the fleet and army of Great 
Britain, at this time chiefly collected about New- York. 
The inevitable consequence would be the quick reduc- 
tion of the British islands in the West Indies, already 
barred of defence by the removal of their troops to this 
continent. For reasons herein assigned, gentlemen, you 
will readily discern how all-important it is to the secu- 
rity of American independence that France should enter 
the war as soon as may be, and how necessary it is if it 
be possible, to procure from her the line-of-battle ships 
you were desired in your instructions to obtain for us, 
the speedy arrival of which here, in the present state of 
things, might decide the contest at one stroke. We shall 
pay proper attention to what Mr. Deane writes concern- 
ing Dr. Williamson and Mr. Hopkins, and we think the 
ill treatment this country and Mr. Deane have received 
from these men, strongly suggest the necessity of invin- 
cible reserve with persons coming to France as Ame- 
ricans and friends to America, whom the most irrefraga- 
ble proofs have not removed all doubt about. The Bri- 


tish recall of their Mediterranean passes, is an object of 
great consequence, and may require much intercession 
with the court of France to prevent the mischief that 
may be desired to American commerce therefrom. But 
this subject has been already touched upon in your in- 
structions on the sixth article of the treaty proposed to 
be made with France. As all affairs relative to the con^ 
duct of commerce and remittance pass through another 
department, we beg leave to refer you to the secret com- 
mittee and Mr. Thomas Morris their agent in France, for 
every information on these subjects. The neighbourhood 
of Philadelphia having by the enemies' movements be- 
come the seat of war, it was judged proper that confess 
should adjourn to this town, where the public busmess 
may be attended to with the undisturbed deliberation 
that its importance demands. The congress was accord- 
ingly opened here on the 20th inst. As' it is more than 
probable that the conference with Lord Howe on Staten 
Island may be misrepresented to the injury of these 
states, we do ourselves the pleasure to enclose you an au- 
thenticated account of that whole business, which the 
possibility of Dr. Franklin's not arriving renders proper. 
This step was taken to unmask his lordship, and evince 
to the world that he did not possess powers, which for 
the purposes of delusive division, it had been suggested 
he did. Mr. Deane's proposition of a loan is accepted by 
congress, and they have desired two millions sterling to 
be obtained if possible. The necessity of keeping up 
the credit of our paper currency and the variety of im- 
portant uses that may be made of this money, have in- 
duced congress to go so far as six per cent., but the in- 
terest is heavy, and it is hoped you may be able to do the 
business on much easier terms. The resolves of con- 
gress on this subject are enclosed and your earliest atten- 
tion to them is desired, that we may know as soon as 
possible the event of this application. Another resolve 
of congress enclosed will show you that congress approve 
of armed vessels being fitted out by you on continental 
account, provided the court of France dislike not the 
measure ; and blank commbsions for this purpose will be 
VOL. I. 37 

*90 urE OF 

sent you by the next opportunity. Private ships of wai 
or privateers cannot be admitted where you are, because 
the securities necessary in such cases to prevent irregular 
practices cannot be given by the owners and command- 
ers of such privateers. Another resolve of congress 
which we have the honour to enclose you, directs the con- 
duct to be pursued with regard to Portugal. We have 
nothing farther to add at present, but to request that you 
will omit no good opportunity of informing us how you 
succeed in your mission, what events take place in Eu- 
rope by which these states may be affected, and that you 
forward us in regular succession some of the best Lon-" 
don, French, and Dutch news-papers, with any valuable 
political publications that may concern North America. 

We have tl^e honour to be, gentlemen, with great re- 
spect and esteem your most obedient and vexy humble 
servants, Benj. Harrison, 

Richard Henry Lee, 
Will. Hooper, 
Jno. Witherspoon, 
RoBT. Morris, of Philad.. 

P. S, — The American captures of British vessels at 
sea have not been less numerous or less valuable than 
before Dr. Franklin left us. The value of these cap- 
tures has been estimated at two millions.'' 

" Baltimore, ^ Feb. 1777. 

Hon. Gentlemen, — You will receive enclosed copies 
of our letters of the 21st December, and of the resolves 
of congress accompanying them. It concerns us not less 
than we are sure it will you, that you should have hqard 
so seldom from us, but the vigilance of the British 
cruisers has prevented our most earnest solicitude for this 
purpose. • The manner in which they now conduct the 
business proves the necessity of the request made by 
congress for the loan or sale of a few capital ships. The 
entrance into Delaware and Chesapeake being narrow, 
by placing one 40 or 50 gun ship for the protection of 
their frigates, they both stop our commerce and our cor- 
respondence. Formerly their frigates protected their 


traders, but now that we have frigates their larger ships 
protect their frigates ; and this winter has been so un- 
commonly favourable that they have been able to keep 
the sea, undisturbed by those severe gales of wind so 
usual off this coast in the winter season. If we had a 
few line of battle ships to aid our frigates, the com- 
merce of North America, so beneficial to ourselves and 
so advantageous to France, would be carried on maugre 
the opposition of Great Britain. As we have not re- 
ceived any of those military stores and clothing promis- 
ed by Mr. Deane, we have much reason to fear they 
have fallen into the enemies' hands, which would render 
a fresh supply necessary. Except Mr. Deane's favour of 
September 17th, which is but just now received, and 
that of October the 1st, we have not heard from him 
since the summer, so that we have been as destitute of 
European as we have been of true American intelligence. 
The enclosed papers will furnish you with authentic ac- 
counts of our successes against our enemies since the 
24th December. They have paid severely for their visit 
of parade through the Jerseys, and these events are an 
abundant proof of British folly in attempting to subdue 
North America. Although the short enlistments had dis- 
persed our army directly in the face of a hostile force, 
and thereby induced a proud enemy to suppose their 
work was done, yet they suddenly found themselves at- 
tacked on all sides by a hardy active militia, who have 
constantly been beating up their quarters, captivating and 
destroying their troops,^ so that in the six or seven last 
weeks they have not looked much fewer than 3000; 
about 2000 of whom with many oiSScers are now our 
prisoners. Instead of remaining cantoned in the pleasant 
villages of Jersey, as the enclosed authentic copy of Gen. 
Howe^s order to Col. de Dourp (the original of which fell 
into our hands by the colonel's flight from Bordenton) will 
show you, that they are now collected upon the Bruns- 
wick Heights, where they suffer every kind of distress 
from want of forage, fuel, and other necessaries, whilst 
Gen. Washington's army of militia so environs them, that 
they never show their faces without their lines, but they 

S92 tIFE OF 

get beaten back with loss and disgrace. Being thus situ- 
ated, we have reason to hope that this part of their army 
(and it is the most considerable part) will by the end of 
the winter be reduced very low by deaths, desertion, and 
captivity. Gen. Heath with a body of eastern troops, 
is making an impression on New- York by King's Bridge, 
which we understand has obliged the enemy to recall 
their troops from Rhode Island, for the defence of that 
city. The regular corps that are to compose the new 
army are making up in the several states as fast as pos- 
sible ; but arms, artillery, tent cloth, and clothing, will 
be greatly wanted. For these our reliance is on the 
favour and friendship of his most Christian majesty. If 
you are so fortunate as to obtain them, the propriety of 
sending them in a strong ship of war must foe very evi- 
dent to you geiTtlemen, when you know our coasts are 
so covered with British cruisers of from 20 to 50 guns, 
though but few of the latter. We believe they have but 
two ships of 40 and two or three of 50 guns in their 
whole fleet on the North American station ; and these 
are employed, one of them to cover a frigate or two at 
the capes of each bay, whilst the rest remaiaed at New- 

We beg leave to turn your attention to the enclosed 
propositions of congress, and we doubt not you will urge 
their success with that zeal and careful assiduity that 
objects so necessary to the liberty and safety of your 
country demand. ^ 

We are exceedingly anxious to hear from you, and re- 
main with particular sentiments of esteem and friendship 
honourable gentlemen, your most obedient and very hum- 
ble servants, Benj. Harrison, 


Jno. Witherspoon.'' 

'< Baxtiuorx, 9th January 1777. 

Honourable Gentlemen, — Captain Hammond having 
been detained longer than we expected, furnishes us with 
an opportunity of giving you the information we have 
since our last received from the army, through a commit- 


tee of coBgress left at Philadelphia ; for we have yet no reg- 
ular account from General Washington. On the second 
instant. General Washington having received informatioQ 
that the enemy were on their march to attack him at 
Trenton, ordered two brigades of militia to advance and 
annoy them on the road leading from Princeton to Tren- 
ton, who falling in with the enemy about three miles 
from the latter place, engaged them ; but being over- 
powered by numbers, made a retreating fight, until they 
joined the main body, who were drawn up on the heights, 
west of a bridge that divides the village of Trenton near- 
ly in two parts. The enemy attempting to force the 
bridge, were repulsed with loss by a body of men with ar- 
tillery, placed there to receive them. In the mean time, 
some batteries being opened on the heights, soon drove the 
enemy from that part of the town possessed by them. 
Thus the affair ended for that evening. But General 
Washington having received intelligence that Gen. Howe 
was in person coming up to join his army with a strong 
re-inforcement, directed fires to be made on the heights 
to deceive the enemy, decamped at midnight, and made 
a forced n^arch in order to meet Gen. Howe and give him 
battle before he joined his main body. About three 
miles short of Princeton, the van of our army fell in 
with 600 British infantry, strongly posted behind a fence, 
and upon a hill, with artillery. They were attacked, 
and after a smart engagement routed, having lost 280^ 
killed and taken, prisoners ; among whbm one colonel, 
one major, several captains and subalterns were slain, 
and about 20 officers made prisoners. The fugitives 
were pursued through Princeton, where our army halted 
a while. In this affair six pieces of artillery with abun- 
dance of baggage fell into our hands. At Princeton it 
was learnt that General Howe was not with this party, 
but that he remained at Brunswick with three or four 
thousand men. There being a considerable force in the 
rear, and our men being greatly fatigued with their 
inarch, and their baggage chiefly left behind, (it having 
been sent to Burlington) the general proceeded to Som- 
erset court-house that evening, a little westward of the 

294 LIFE OF 


road leading to Brunswick, and about seven or nine miles 
from that place. Here we understand he expected to be 
joined by a body of 1500 or 2000 fresh troops, and that 
his intention was to attack Gen. Howe in Brunswick. On 
Friday morning, when the enemy at Trenton missed our 
army, they returned towards Princeton; but it seems 
they left three thousand Hessians behind them, who fol- 
lowing afterwards were so fatigued with travelling and 
want of food, that numbers were left on the road, and 
were straggling about the country in threes and fours. 
Many were taken by the country people and brought in 
prisoners ; many came to Trenton and surrendered them- 
selves. The militia of Jersey, were rising generally, and 
it was thought few of these Hessians would get back 
again. This is the present state of our information, and 
we hourly expect a well authenticated account of the 
whole, and of much greater successes. We shall en- 
deavour to give you the speediest account of what shall 
farther come to our knowledge from good authority. 

The above relation is taken from a gentleman who was 
in the action, and who, the committee inform us is a gen- 
tleman of sense and honour. The general has been too 
much engaged to write, and we suppose waits the final 
issue. We most earnestly wish you success in your ne- 
gotiations, and are with perfect esteem, honourable gen- 
tlemen, your most obedient and very humble servants. 

Benj. Harrison, 
Richard Henry Lee. 
In secret committee. 

P. S. In the engagement near Princeton we lost fif- 
teen privates, one colonel, and brigadier general Mercer, a 
very good officer and a worthy gentleman. 

Passy, March 21, 1777. The above is a copy of the 
last letter. The preceding gives an account of the taking 
prisoners three battalions of Hessians at Trenton, De- 
cember 26, of which I suppose you have already seen 
the particulars. ^ B. F.'' 


tee of coBgress left at Philadelphia ; for we have yet no reg- 
ular account from General Washington. On the second 
instant, General Washington having received informatioa 
that the enemy were on their march to attack him at 
Trenton, ordered two brigades of militia to advance and 
annoy them on the road leading from Princeton to Tren- 
ton, who falling in with the enemy about three miles 
from the latter place, engaged them ; but being over- 
powered by numbers, made a retreating fight, until they 
joined the main body, who were drawn up on the heights, 
west of a bridge that divides the village of Trenton near- 
ly in two parts. The enemy attempting to force the 
bridge, were repulsed with loss by a body of men with ar- 
tillery, placed tt^ere to receive them. In the mean time, 
some batteries being opened on the heights, soon drove the 
enemy from that part of the town possessed by them. 
Thus the affair ended for that evening. But General 
Washington having received intelligence that Gen. Howe 
was in person coming up to join his army with a strong 
re-inforcement, directed fires to be made on the heights 
to deceive the enemy, decamped at midnight, and made 
a forced n^arch in order to meet Gen. Howe and give him 
battle before he joined his main body. About three 
miles short of Princeton, the van of our army fell in 
with 600 British infantry, strongly posted behind a fence, 
and upon a hill, with artillery. They were attacked, 
and after a smart engagement routed, having lost 280^ 
killed and taken prisoners ; among whbm one colonel, 
one major, several captains and subalterns were slain, 
and about 20 officers made prisoners. The fugitives 
were pursued through Princeton, where our army halted 
a while. In this affair six pieces of artillery with abun- 
dance of baggage fell into our hands. At Princeton it 
was learnt that General Howe was not with this party, 
but that he remained at Brunswick with three or four 
thousand men. There being a considerable force in the 
rear, and our men being greatly fatigued with their 
march, and their baggage chiefly left behind, (it having 
been sent to Burlington) the general proceeded to Som- 
erset coort-house that evening, a little westward of the 

896 LIFE OF 

this city by the enemy, has put it totally out of our power 
to forward any despatches for some time past. 

^ (Third copy.) R. M. 

The Honourable Befij. FrankKn^ Silas Deane and Arthur 
Lee^ EsquireSj ComniissionerSy S^c. Parie.^^ 

" In Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

(Duplicate.) , * Yorktown, Psjei n. Oct. 6th, 1777, 

Honourable Gentlemen, — Since ours to you by return 
of the packet from New-Hampshire, and duplicates by 
Mr. McCreary from Maryland, we have not written : nor 
have we received any of your favours during the last two 
months, except a letter of old date, (April 29th) signed 
by Mr. Deane and Doctor Lee. Capt. Hammond being 
not yet arrived, although he sailed in April, it is too pro- 
bable that he has either fallen into the hands of the ene- 
my, or miscarried at sea. Two reasons have prevented 
us from writing hitherto; because from your stssurances 
we had room to expect a monthly packet, and because 
the progressive state of the war gave us room to look 
daily for some more decisive event than had happened, 
and which might warrant the expense of a particular 
packet ; as the casual conveyance by merchant vessels is 
almost entirely stopped by the number and vigilance of 
British cruisers. 

We shall now give you an accurate detail of the war 
in the northern and middle departments, where alone it 
has raged since our last. You were before apprized of 
the evacuation of Ticonderoga, and the retreat of our 
army from thence towards Albany. Gen. Burgoyne was 
rapid in pursuit of his successes, and pressed quickly on 
as far as Fort Edward, near Hudson River, about twenty 
miles above Albany. Here his progress was interrupted 
by the American army, which halted and was reinforced 
a little below himi This circumstance with the follow- 
ing events have continued that interruption, and bid fair 
to render abortive at least, the great advantages expected 
by our enemies from their first successes on the lakes. 
The better to effect his purpose Gen. Burgoyne had de- 
tached Gen. St. Leger, with a body of regular troops, 


Canadians and Indians, by the Oneida Lake and Wood 
Creek, to take Fort Schuyler, (formerly Stanwix) and to 
make an impression along Mohawk River. This part of 
the plan has been totally defeated by the bravery of Gen. 
Herkimer, with the Tryon County militia, and by the 
gallant defence of Fort Schuyler, by Col. Gansevort and 
Lt. Col. Willet. The former of these met the enemy in 
the field, defeated them, and killed a great number of 
their Indian allies. This defeat being obtained by mill* 
tia, they dispersed as usual and left the enemy to collect 
and lay siege to Fort Schuyler, which was defended with 
great gallantry by the two officers above mentioned, un-^ 
til the approach of Gen. Arnold with a body of troops 
occasioned the enemy to raise the siege of that fortress, 
and to retreat with great precipitation, leaving their bag^ 
gage, ammunition, provisions, and some artillery, which 
fell into our hands. Another body of troops was detach- 
ed by Gen. Burgoyne, under command of Lieut. Col, 
Baum, to the eastward, for the purpose of collecting 
horses to mount the troopers, provisions and teams for 
the use of the army. This detachment was met, attack-* 
• ed, and defeated, by the brave Gen. Stark and the New* 
Hampshire militia, at a place called Bennington, now 
rendered famous by the total overthrow of 1 500 regular 
troops, (posted behind works and fortified with cannon) 
by 2000 militia. The two wings of Gen. Burgoyne being 
thus cut off, his body remained inactive until the 19th of 
last month, when he moved on to attack Gen. Gates, who 
commands the northern army, and was well posted at 
the heights above Bekmus's. The consequence of this 
attack you will see related by Gen. Gates himself among 
the enclosed, as well as the account of our successes in 
the rear of the enemy on the lakes George and Cham-^ 
plain, by Col. Brown, who had been detached for the 
purpose by Gen. Lincoln, who is also in Gen. Burgoyne's 
rear with a strong body of troops. Our enemy being 
thus surrounded on all sides, with little prospect of safe 
retreat, and a strong sjrmy in front, growing stronger every 
day by reinforcements, we hope ere long to be able to 
give you information of definitive success over the British 
VOL. I. 38 


army in that quarter. An aid of Gen. Gates, who brought 
these last accounts, tells us that by the concurring testi- 
mony of prisoners, deserters, and our own people who 
have escaped from the enemy, their loss could not be less 
than 1000 or 1200 men in killed, wounded, and missing; 
and that Gen. Burgoyne himself was wounded in the 
shoulder by a rifle ball. 

In the middle department the war has been less favour- 
able to us, as you will see by what follows. About the 
middle of August the British fleet appeared in Chesa-- 
peake Bay, and landed Gen. Howe's army at the head 
of Elk, about 50 miles from Philadelphia. Gen. Wash- 
ington's army, which had crossed the Delaware on the 
embarkation of the British troops, and the appearance of 
the fleet ofi* the capes of that river, now proceeded to 
meet the enemy, and came up with them near Wilming- 
ton. . After various skirmishes and manceuvres, a general 
engagement took place at Chad's Ford over the Brandy- 
wine, on the 11th of Sept last. This battle terminated 
in leaving the enemy, in possession of the field, wit]i nine 
pieces of our artillery. Our loss in killed, wounded, and 
missing, did not exceed 600 ; that of the enemy, as far 
as we have been able to receive information, was near 
2000. An orderly book taken from them since the bat- 
tle, makes it 1 900. Gen. Washington retreated across the 
Schuylkill, and having refreshed his army, recrossed that 
river in two days after the former battle, with the design 
to attack the enemy, who had remained close by the field 
of action until he came up with them again. To be bet- 
ter prepared for battle, and to be guarded against the con- 
sequences of a defeat, our army marched without baggage, 
and left their tents behind. In this situation, and just in 
the moment of beginning an attack vifon the enemy, a 
heavy, long continued, and cold rain, with high wmd, 
came on^ and prevented it. The ammunition in the 
cartridge-boxes was all rendered unfit for use, the arms 
were injured, and the troops a good deal hurt and dispir- 
ited, in these circumstances it became necessary to re- 
tire from before the enemy to a place of safety, in order 
to clean the arms, replace the cartridges, and refresh the 


men. The enemy were also without tents ; but they 
have good blankets, are better clothed than our men, and 
have tin receptacles to. keep dry their cartridges. Gen. 
Howe, judging of our situation, put his army in motion, 
and endeavoured to distress marches, counter-march- 
es, and frequent shows of designing to give battle. After 
a variety of manceuvres, the enemy crossed Schuylkill 
below our troops, and marching to Philadelphia, have 
possessed themselves of that city. 

Gen. Washington having rested and refreshed his troops, 
and being reinforced, is now moving towards the ene- 
my. This unfavourable rain has injured our affairs con- 
siderably, by having thrown a number of our men into 
hospitals, and by the distress and embarrassment of our 
army consequent thereupon ; however, they are recover- 
ing again, and we hope ere long to give Gen. Howe 
reason to repent his possession of Philadelphia. The 
real injury to America from the loss of that city, is not 
so great as some are apt at first view to imagine, unless 
the report and misconception of this matter in Europe 
should too much dispirit our friends and inspirit our ene- 

But we rely on your careful and just representation of 
it, to prevent the ill impressions it may otherwise make. 
When this contest first began, we foresaw the probability 
of losing our great towns on t^e water, and so expressly 
told our enemies in the address of the first congress ; 
but we are blest with an extensive sea-coast, by which 
we can convey and receive benefits independent of any 
particular spot : and it is far from being clear to us that 
the enemy will be able to hold Philadelphia, as we are 
yet masters of the Delaware below, and have hopes of 
keeping it, so as to prevent the British fleet from getting 
up to the city. Should this be the case. Gen. Howe's 
visit cannot be of long duration. 

You say that " the vessels of the United States will 
be received at the Havannah as those of France,the most 
favoured nation." We wish to be informed whether all 
North American products may be carried thither, or pri- 
zes tsiken to and disposed of in that port, or any other of 

300 LIFE OF 

his Catholic majesty in America. You likewise mention 
a late draught of the M ississippi^ taken foi* the govern- 
ment of Great Britain. We are desirous of being fur- 
nished with a copy. It is with pleasure we read your 
assurance of sending the soldiers clothings and other arti« 
cles for the army, in time to meet the approaching cold 
season. They will be greatly wanted. As the degree 
of success the enemy have met with this year will proba- 
bly support the hopes of a vindictive court, and occasion 
the straining of every nerve for the accomplishment of 
its tyrannic views, we doubt not your most streniipus ex- 
ertions to prevent GreatBritain from obtaining Prussian or 
' German auxiliaries for the next campaign ; and we think 
with you that it is an object of great importance to cul- 
tivate and secure the friendship of his Prussian majesty, 
as well for preventing that evil, as for obtaining his pub- 
lic recognition of our independence, and leave of his 
ports for the purposes of commerce, and disposal of prir 
tes. The original papers which you mention in a tripli- 
cate to have sent, never came to hand ; so that we are 
able only to conjecture the disposition of that monarch. 
The marine force of the enemy is so considerable in these 
sead, and so over-proportionate to our infant navy, that it 
seems necessary and wise to send our ships to distress the 
commerce of our enemies in other parts of the world. 
For this purpose the marine committee have already or- 
dered some vessels to France, under your direction as to 
their future operations, and we expect more will be sent. 
. But our frigates are not capable of carrying much bulky 
commodity for commercial purposes, without unfitting 
them for war; besides, the consideration of our being 
obliged to get them away how and when we can, or en- 
danger their being taken, prevents our sending them to 
those staple colonies, where the commodities wanted are 
to be obtained. The reciprocal benefits of commerce 
cannot flow from or to North America, until some mari- 
time power in Europe will aid' our cause with marine 
strength* And this circumstance gives us pain, lest it 
should be judged unwillingness on our part to pay our 
debts, when the truth is we have the greatest desire of 


doing 80, have materials in abundance, but not the powd- 
er of conveying them. 

This leads us to reflect on the great advantages that 
must unavoidably accrue to all parties, if France and 
Spain were to afford effectual aid on the sea by loan or 
sale of ships of war, according to the former propositions 
of congress ; or if the Farmers General could be prevail- 
ed upon to receive in America, the tobacco or other pro- 
ducts of this northern continent which France may want* 
We are gentlemen, your very humble servants, 

Jno. Witherspoon, 
Benj. Harrison, 
Richard Henry Lee, 
James Lovell, 
Thomas Heyward, Jun. 
Hon. Messrs. Franklin^ Dtomiei and Lee, 

P. S- — Oct. 9th. On the 4 th an engagement T)e- 
tween the two armies took place near Germantown ; 
the circumstances of which may be known by the en- 
closed papers numbered 6, 7, 8." 

" In Committee for Foreign Affairs. 

YoRKToww, May 14th, 1778. 

Sir, — ^Your several favours of Oct. 6th, Nov, 27th, and 
Dec. 8th, were delivered to us on the 2nd inst, the de- 
spatches by Mr. Deane and those by Capt. Young arriv- 
ing the same day. ' We had before received your short 
letter of the 1st of June, but are yet without that of the 
29th of July, in which you had informed us * at large' of 
your proceedings in Prussia. Its contents would have 
proved highly agreeable to us in those months, when we 
were quite tminformed of the proceedings and prospects 
of your colleagues at Paris. Impressed with a sense of 
the value of the king of Prussia's " warmest wishes for 
our success," we give assurances of equal wishes in conr 
gress for that monarch's prosperity. We have little doubt 
of open testimonies, of his majesty's friendship in con- 
sequence of the late decision of the king of France. 
. V our information in regard to our connexion with the 
fictitious house of Roderique, tiortales, and Co. is more 


explicit than an j we had before received ; but we farther 
expect that all mystery should be removed ; surely there 
cannot now be occasion for any, if there ever was for half 
that which is past. 

Our commercial transactions will very speedily be put 
under the direction of a board, consisting of persons not 
members of congress; it being impracticable for the 
same men to conduct the deliberative and executive 
business of the continent now, in its great increase. It 
has been next to impossible to make remittances for many 
months from the staple colonies, their coasts having been 
constantly infested by numerous and strong cruisers of 
the enemy. We hope the alliance of maritime powers 
with us will remove our embarrassment, and give us op- 
portunity to carry into effect our' hearty wishes to main- 
tain the fairest commercial reputation. 

There will be great impropriety in our making a dif- 
ferent settlement for the supplies received from Spain 
from those received from France. We are greatly 
obliged to the friends who have exerted themselves for 
our relief, and we wish you to signify our gratitude upon 
every proper opportunity. But having promised to make 
remittances to the house of Hortales & Co. for the prime 
cost, charges, interest, and usual mercantile commission 
upon whatever is justly due to that house, we must keep 
the same line with Messrs. Gardoqui. On the one hand 
we would not willingly give disgust by slighting princely 
generosity, nor on the other submit to unnecessary obli- 

The unanimity with which congress has ratified the 
treaties with France, and the general glad acceptance of 
the alliance by the people of these states, must shock 
Great Britain, who seems, to have thought that no cruel- 
ty from her would destroy our former great partiality in 
her favour. - What plan she will adopt in consequence 
of her disappointment, time only can discover. But we 
shall aim to be in a posture either to negotiate honour- 
able peace, or continue this just war. 

We stand in need of the advice and assistance of all 
our friends in the matter of finance, as the quality of 

ARTHUR L££. 803 

our paper money, necessarily emitted, has produced a 
depreciation which will be ruinous, if not speedily check- 
ed. We have encouraging accounts of the temper of 
the . Hollanders of late, and expect we may find relief 
from that quarter among others. 

A few weeks, if not a few days, must produce fruitful 
subjects for another letter, when we shall, in our Ime of 
duty, renew our assurances of being with great regard, 
sir, your affectionate humble servants. 

Richard Henry Lee, 
James Lovell, 
Robert Morris." 

^^In congress, May 7th, 1778, Resolved^ that the com- 
missioners appointed for the courts of Spain, Tuscany, 
Vienna and Joerlin, should live in such style and man- 
ner at their respective courts as they may find suita- 
ble and necessary to support the dignity of their public 
character, keeping an account of their expenses, which 
shall be reimbursed by the congress of the United States 
of America. 

That besides the actual expenses of the commissioners, 
a handsome allowance be made to each of them as a com- 
pensation for his services. 

That the commissioners at the other ceurts in Europe 
be empowered to draw bills of exchange, from time to 
time, for the amount of their expenses, upon the com- 
missioners at the court of France. 

May 9th, 1778. Whereas there are more captains in 
the navy than there are ships provided for them. 

Ordered, that the committee for foreign affairs be di- 
rected to write to the commissioners of the United States 
at foreign courts, and inform them that congress expect 
they will not recommend any foreign sea officers, nor 
give any of them the least expectation of being employed 
as captains in the navy of the United States. 
Extract from the minutes. 

Charles Thompson, Jun." 

304 LIFE or 

" In Committee for Foreign Affairs. 

YoRKTowKy May 14, 1778. 

Our affairs have now a universally good appearance. 
Every thing at home and abroad seems verging towards 
a happy and permanent period. We are preparing for 
either war or peace ; for although we are^fuUy persuad- 
ed that our enemies are wearied, beaten and in des- 
pair, yet we shall not presume too much on that belief, 
and the rather, as it is our fixed determination to admit 
no terms of peace but such as are fully in character with 
the dignity of independent states, and consistent with 
the spirit and intention of our alliances on the contineDt 
of Europe. 

We believe, and with great reason too, that the honour 
and fortitude of America have been rendered suspicious 
by the arts, intrigues, and specious misrepresentations of 
our enemies. Every proceeding and policy of ours has 
been tortured to give some possible colouring to their as- 
sertions of a doubtful disposition in America, as to her 
final perseverance in maintaining her independence ; and 
perhaps the speeches of several of the ministry in both 
houses of the British parliament, who seem to persist in 
the possibility of a reconciliation, might contribute to- 
wards that suspicion. We at this time feel ourselves ex- 
ceedingly happy in being able to show, from th^ accident- 
al arrangement of circumstances, such as we could have 
neither the policy to foresee, nor power to alter, that the 
disposition of America on that head was fixed and final. 
For a proof of which we desire your attention to the fol- 

The English ministry appear to have been very indus- 
trious in getting their two conciliatory bills (even before 
they had been read once) over to America, as soon as 
possible, the reason of which haste we did not then fore- 
see ; but the arrival of jour despatches since, with the 
treaties, have unriddled the affair. General Howe was 
equally industrious in circulating them by his emis- 
saries, through the country. Mr. Tryon at New- York 
did the same, and both these gentlenien sent them, under 
sanction of a flag, to General Washington, who immedi- 


ately sent the first he received to congress. Mr. Tryon's 
letter, which covered tbeniy and General Washington'^ 
answer thereto, you will find in Hall's & Sellers' Ca- 
ssette, printed at Yorktown 2d May. 

Those bills are truly unworthy the attention of any 
body ; but lest the silence of congress should be misun- 
derstood or furnish the enemy wilk new ground for false 
insinuation, they were instantly referred «to a committee 
of congress, whose judicious and spirited report was 
unanimously approved by the house April 22d, and pub- 
lished and circulated through the several states with all 
possible expedition. 

The despatches in charge of Mr. Deane did not arrive 
till the second of May, ten days after the reports were 
published ; and his expedition in bringing the despatches 
to confipress prevented any intelligence arriving before 
him. Enclosed are the reports referred to, to which we 
recommend your attention in making them as public as 
possible in Europe, prefacing them with such an explan- 
atory detail of circumstances as shall have a tendency to 
place the politics of America on the firm basis of national 
honour, integrity and fortitude. 

We admire the true wisdom and dignity of the court 
of France in her part of the construction and ratification 
of those treaties; they have a powerful and effectual 
tendency to dissolve that narrowness of mind, which 
mankind have been too unhappily bred up in. In those 
treaties, we see the politician founded on the philosopher, 
and harmony of affection made the ground-work of mutu- 
al interest. France, by her open candour, has won us 
more powerfully than any reserved treaties could possi- 
bly frtW us, and at a happy juncture of times and circum- 
stances, laid the seeds of an eternal friendship. 

It is from an anxiety of preserving inviolate thb cordial 
union, so happily begun, that we desire your attention to 
the eleventh and twelfth articles of the treaties of amity 
and commerce. The unreserved confidence of congress 
in the good disposition of the court of France will suffi- 
ciently appear by their having unanimously ratified those 
treaties, and then trusted any alteration or amendment to 

VOL. I. 39 

306 LIFE OF 

mutual concession afterwards. We are apprehensive 
that the general and extensive tenour of the twelfth ar- 
ticle may in future be misunderstood, or rendered incon- 
venient or impracticable ; and in the end become detri- 
mental to that friendship we wish ever to exist. To 
prevent which, you will herewith receive instructions 
and authority for giving up on our part the whole of the 
eleventh article, proposing it as a condition to the court 
of France, that they on their part give up the whole of 
the twelfth article, those two being intended as recipro- 
cal balances to each other. 

It is exceedingly distressing to congress to hear of 
misconduct in any of the commanders of armed vessels 
under the American flag. Every authentic information 
you can give on this head will be strictly attended to, 
and every means taken to punish the offenders, and make 
reparation to the sufferers. The chief consolation we 
find in this disagreeable business, is that the most expe- 
'rienced states have not always been able to restrain the 
vices and irregularities of individuals. Congress has 
published a proclamation for the more effectually sup- 
pressing and punishing such practices ; but we are rather 
inclined to hope, that as the line of connexion and friend- 
ship is now clearly marked, and the minds of the seamen 
relieved thereby from that unexplainable mystery respect- 
ing their real prizes, which before embarrassed them, 
that such irregularities will be less frequent, or totally 
cease, to which end the magnificent generosity of the 
court of France to the owners of the prizes, which for 
" reasons of state" had been given up, will happily con- 
tribute. We are gentlemen, your obedient humble ser- 
vants. Richard Henry Lee, 

James Lovell. 

The Honourable Commimoners at Paris.^^ 

" In Committee for Foreign Affairs. 

YoRKToww, May 15^ 1778. 

Gentlemen, — Your pressing request for 5000 hhds. of 
tobacco, is a matter as embarrassing to congress as to 


yourselves. Their anxiety to get it to you is as great 
as yours to receive it. We have already lost considera- 
ble quantities in the attempt ; and thereby furnished our 
enemies gratis with what was designed to discharge your 
contracts with, and promote the interests and commerce 
of our friends. We request your particular attention to 
this information. It is a matter of the highest moment 
to our allies as well as to ourselves. In the present state 
of things, it is very probable that England will not in- 
terrupt the trade of France in her own bottoms, and our 
desire is, as well for her benefit as ours, that France 
would open the trade from her own ports, so that the in- 
tentional advantages of the treaties may fully operate to 
both countries. We need not enlarge on this head, as 
your own discernment and judgment will furnish you 
with all the reasons necessary therefor. 

In addition to what is mentioned in our letter No. — , 
respecting the 1 1th and 12th articles, we observe, that the 
12th is capable of an interpretation and misuse, which 
was probably not thought of at the time of constructing 
it, which is, that it opens a door for all or a great part of 
the trade of America to be carried through the French 
islands to Europe, and puts all future regulations out of 
our power, either of imposts or prohibitions, which, 
though we might never find it our interest to use, yet it 
is the keeping those in our power, that may hereafter 
enable us to preserve equality with, and regulate the im- 
posts of the countries we trade with. The general trade 
of France is not under the like restriction ; every article 
on our part being staked against the single article of 
molasses on theirs. Therefore congress thinks it more 
liberal and consistent that both articles should be ex- 

We have no material military transaction to acquaint 
yoa with. The enemy yet remain in Philadelphia, but 
some late movements make it probable they will not 
stay long. Our army is yet at the Valley Forge. The 
enemy through the course of the winter have carried on a 
low, pitiful, and disgraceful kind of war against individu- 
als, whom they have picked up by sending out little par- 

508 LIFE OF • . 

ties for that purpose, and revengeful! j burning several of 
their houses. Yet all this militates against Siemselres, 
by keeping up an inflammable indignity in the country 
towards them ; and on the whole, we know not which 
most to wonder at, their folly in making us hate thetn af- 
ter their inability for conquest and desire of peace are 
confessed, or their scandalous barbarity in expressing their 

You will see gentlemen, by the contract which the 
commercial committee has signed with the agent of Mr* 
Beaumarchais, that congress was desirous of keeping a 
middle course, so as not to appear to slight any determin- 
ed generosity of the French court, and at the same time 
to show a promptness to discharge honourably the debts 
I which may be justly charged against these states by any 

i persons. We depend upon you to explain the affair 

\ fully, as you seem to make a distinction between the 

{ military stores and the othet invoices, while no such dis- 

4 tinction appears in the letters of Mr. Deane and Mr. 

Beaumarchais. In short we are rather more undetermin- 
ed by your late despatches than we were by your long si- 

Congress being at this time deeply eilgaged in a vari- 
ety of pressing business, and the foreign committee thia 
of members, you will be pleased to excuse us from be- 
ing more particular in our answer to your several de- 
spatches, a& well as in our information of the state of 
our affairs. 
We are gentlemen your very humble servants, 

Richard Henrt Lee, 
James Lovell. 
To the PommissionerB ai Paris. 

' P. S. You will see what we have writteii to Mr. Du- 
mas, and you will point out to us what will be our line of 
honour to him and justice to these states.'' 

*^ In Committee for Foreign Affairs. 

YoRKTowN, Penn. Junc 21, 1778. 

Gentlemen, — The British commissioners have arrived 
and transmitted their powers and propositions to congress, 


which hare received the answer you will see in the Pean* 
sylvania Gazette of the 2(tth instant* 

On the 1 8th of this month Gen. Clinton, with the 
British army (now under his command) abandoned Phila* 
delphia^ and the city is in possession of our troops. The 
enemy crossed into Jersey, but^ whether with design to 
push for Amboy, or to embark below Bordentown on 
the Delaware, is yet uncertain. Gen. Washington has 
put his army in motion, and is following the enemy into 

There has arrived here a Mr. Holker from France, 
who has presented a paper to congress declaring that he 
comes with a verbal message to congress from the min- 
ister of France, touching our treating with Great Britain, 
and some other particulars, which for want of his paper 
we cannot at present enumerate. The style of his pa- 
per is, as from the representative of the court, but he has 
no authentic voucher of his mission for the delivery of 
this verbal message. We desire of you gentlemen to 
give us the most exact information in your power con* 
ceming the authenticity of Mr. Holker's mission for this 

We are gentlemen, with esteem and regard, your most 
obedient and very humble servants, 

Richard Henbt Lee, 
Signed, Thos. Heyward, jr. 

James Lovejll.'' 

" Pbii.adei.phia> July 16th) 1779. 

Sir, — Two days ago several of your letters came to 
hand, the latest being of April 6th. It is much to be 
regretted that this one in particular did not earlier ar- 

One copy of its contents was sent immediately to Gen; 
Washington, and another to Governor Trumbull, but alas, 
too late ! Fairfield had been destroyed by the fire of the 
enemy. We are mistaken however if that enemy does 
not find the unprofitableness of this kind of warfare to- 
wards their main purpose. America must be dead in* 
deed to all proper spirit, if such doings will not render 

810 LIF£ OF 

her both vigilant and active as in the beginning of the 

It is matter of much conjecture why you have not 
been able for some months back to give us interesting 
accounts from Spain ; all we know is through Mr. Ge- 

We have sent so many sets of the journals of con- 
gress that you will doubtless get one. They are chiefly 
directed to Dr. Franklin. You will find the parts in 
which you are personally interested to be under the fol- 
lowing dates. April 6, 15, 20, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30; May 
3, 22, 24, 25, 27 ; June 8. 

We shall speedily write again. In the mean time be 
assured that we are with much regard sir, your humble 
servants, James Lovell, 

For the committee. 

Hon. Arthur Lee^ Esq?^ 

« Paris, Feb. 6th, 1777. 

Gentlemen, — Since our last, a copy of which is en- 
closed, Mr. Hodge arrived here from Martinique, and 
has brought safely the papers he was charged with. He, 
had a long passage and was near being starved. We are 
about to einploy him in a service pointed out by you at 
Dunkirk or Flushing. He has delivered us tlfree sets of 
the papers we wanted. . But we shall want more, and 
beg you will not fail to send them by several opportu- 

A private company has been just formed here for the 
importation of tobacco, who have made such proposals 
to the Farmers General as induced them to suspend the 
signing of their agreement with us, though the terms had 
been settled and the writings drawn. It seems now un- 
certain whether it will be revived or not. The com- 
pany have offered to export such goods as we should 
advise, and we have given them a list of those most 
wanted. But so changeable are minds here, oh occa- • 
sion of news good or bad, that one cannot be sure that 
even this company will proceed. With an universal 
good will to our cause and country apparent in all com-* 


panies, there is mixed an universal apprehension that we 
shall be reduced to submission, which often chills the 
purpose of serving us. 

The want of intelligence from America and the im- 
possibility of contradicting by that means the false news 
spread here and all over Europe by the enemy, has a bad 
effect on the minds of many who would adventure in trade 
to our ports, as well as on the conduct of the several 
governments of Europe. It is now more than three 
months since our B. F. left Philadelphia, and we have 
not received a single letter of later date, Mr. Hodge 
having left that place before him. We are about pur- 
chasing some cutters, to be employed as packets. In 
the first we despatch we shall write more particularly 
concerning our proceedings here than by these merchant 
ships we can venture to do; for the orders ^iven to 
sink letters are not well executed. One of our vessels 
was lately carried into Gibraltar, being taken by an Eng- 
lish man-of-war, and we hear there were letters for us 
which the captain, just as he was boarded, threw out of 
the cabin window, which floating on the water were 
taken up ; and a sloop despatched with them to London. 
We also just now hear from London through the minis- 
try here, that another of our ships is carried into Bristol 
by the crew, who consisted of eight American seamen 
with eight English ; four of the Americans being sick* 
the other four were overpowered by the eight English, 
and carried in as aforesaid ; the letters were despatched 
to court. 

From London they write to us that a body of 10,000 
men, chiefly Germans, are to go out this spring, under 
the command of Gen. Burgoyne for the invasion of Vir- 
ginia and JMaryland. The opinion of this court founded 
on their advices from Germany, is that such a number 
can by no means be obtained. But you will be on your 
guard. The Amphitrite and the Seine from Havre, and 
the Mercury from Nantes are all now at sea, laden with 
arms, ammunition, brass field-pieces, and stores, clothing, 
canvass, &c», which if they safely arrive, will put you in 


a much better condition for the next campai^ than you 
were the last. Some excellent engineers and officers of 
artillery will also be with you pretty early. Also some 
few for the cavalry ; officers of infantry of all ranks have 
offered themselves without number. It is quite a busi- 
ness to receive their applications and refuse them. Many 
have gone over at their own expense, contrary to our ad- 
vice ; to some few of those .who were well recommend- 
ed, we have given letters of introduction. 

The conduct of our general in avoiding a decisive 
action, is much applauded by the military people here, 

Earticularly Marshals Maillebois, Broglio, and d'Arcy. 
f . Maillebois has taken the pains to write his senti- 
ments of some particulars useful in carrying on our war, 
which we send enclosed. But that which makes the 
greatest impression in our favour here is the prodigious 
success of our armed ships and privateers. The damage 
we have done their West India trade has been estimated 
in a representation to Lord Sandwich by the merchants 
of London at £1,800,000 sterling, which has raised in- 
surance to 28 per cent., being higher than at any time 
in the last war with France and Spain. This mode of 
exerting our force against them should be pushed with 
vigour. It is that in which we can most sensibly hurt 
them. And to secure a continuance of it we think one 
or two of the 'engineers we send over may be usefully 
employed in making some of our pqrts impregnable. As 
we are well informed that a number of cutters are build- 
ing to cruise in the West Indies against our small priva- 
teers it may not be amiss, we think, to send your larger 
vessels thither, and ply in other quarters with the small 

A fresh misunderstanding between the Turks and 
Russia, is likely to give so much employment to the 
troops of the latter, as that England can hardly expect 
to obtain any of them. Her malice against us, is how- 
ever so liigh at present that she would stick at no ex- 
pense to gratify it. The New-England colonies are ac- 
cording to our best information destiiied to destruction, 


and the rest to slave^ under a military government 
But the Governor of the world sets bounds to the rage of 
men as well as to that of the ocean. 

Finding that our residence here together is nearly as 
expensive as if we were separate ; and having reason to 
believe that one of us might be useful in Madrid, and an- 
other in Holland, and some courts further northward, we 
have agreed that Mr. Lee go to Spain, and either Mr. 
Deane or myself to the Hague. Mr. Lee sets out to^ 
morrow, having obtained passports and a letter from the 
Spanish ambassador here to the minister there. The 
journey to Holland will not take place so soon. The 
particular purposes of these journeys we cannot prudent- 
ly now explain. 

It is proper we should acquaint you with the behav- 
iour of one Nicholas Davis, who came to us here pre- 
tending to have served as an officer in India, to be orig- 
inally from Boston, and desirous of returning to act in 
defence of his country, but through the loss of some 
effects coming to him from Jamaica, and taken by our 
privateers, unable to defray the expense of his passage. 
We furnished him with thirty louis, which was fuUy suffi- 
cient ; but at Havre just before he sailed, he took the 
liberty of drawing on us for near forty more, which we 
have been obliged to pay. As in order to obtain that 
credit Ke was guilty of several falsehoods, we now doubt 
his ever having been an officer at all. We send his note 
and draught, and hope you will take proper care of him. 
He says his father was a clergyman in Jamaica. He 
went in the Seine and took charge of two blankets for 
M. Morris. 

We hope your union continues firm, and the courage 
of our countrymen unabated. . England begins to be very 
jealous of this court, and we think with some reason. 

We have the honour, to be with sincere esteem gen- 
tlemen, Benjamin Franklin, 

Silas Deane, . 
Arthur Lee. 

Tht Hon^ble the Secret Committee, 

True copy, examined. W. T. Franklin." 

VOL. I. 40 

314 LIFE OF 

"Paws, April 28th, 1777. 

Gentlemen,— -We wrote to you pretty fully on the 
state of affairs here in ours of the 12th of March and 
19th of this month, since which there has been little 
alteration. There is yet no certainty of a sudden de- 
claration of war, but the preparations go on vigorously 
both here and in Spain, the armies of France drawing 
towards the sea coasts, and those of Spain to the frontiers 
of Portugal, and their fleets fitting in the ports ; but the 
court still gives assurances of peace to the British am- 
bassador, the nation in general all the while calling 
out for war. 

We have received the resolution of congress of Feb. 
5th for sending over a great quantity of clothing upon 
the credit of the states, in case we cannot borrow 'money 
of the government to pay for them. We wrote before 
that the loan proposed was at present impracticable ; 
and we have not yet received the credit we expected 
from Spain ; the arms we have bought, ships building, 
and the brass cannon ordered will demand great sums ; but 
as we shall receive a payment from the Farmers Gen^ 
eral next month, and hope you will be very diligent in 
sending remittances, we shall go as far upon our credit 
as it can carry us, in sending the clothing required. 
Flints sufficient we apprehend are already gone. 

We have according to orders, notified the several courts 
of the intention of congress to send ministers to them ; 
and delivered a remonstrance to the Portuguese ambas- 
sador concerning the proceeding of that court. As the 
minister for Prussia may not soon arrive, and that court 
has shown a disposition to trefat, by entering into a cor- 
respondence with us, we have thought it might be well 
that one of us should visit it immediately to improve its 
present good dispositions, and obtain if possible, the priv- 
ilege of their ports to trade and fit ships in and to sell 
our prizes. Mr. Lee has readily undertaken this journey, 
and will soon set out for Berlin with Mr. Carmicbael, 
who has already been there and paved the way» and 


whom we recommend to congress as a faithful, service- 
able man that ought to be encouraged. 
We have the honour to be, &c. 

^ Benjamin Franklin, 
Silas Deane,^ 
Arthur Lee. 
To the HovfhU tht Secret Committee.^^ 

Dr. Franklin believes there was some addition mad^ 
to this letter before it was sent, but is not certain. 

W. T. F. 

« Passt, near Paris, Sept 8th, 1777. 

Gentlemen, — It is long since we had a line from you, 
the last received being of the date of . We sup- 
pose the same causes have occasioned your hearing so 
seldom from us ; the difficulty of finding safe convey- 
ances, and sometimes the loss of the despatches by the 

Mr. Lee informs you, we suppose, of his negotiations 
in Prussia, and of his safe return hither. There appears 
in that, as well as in every other country in Europe a 
disposition to share in our commerce and to oblige us, 
as far as may be done without offending England. We 
have numbers of letters from eminent houses there, pro- 
posing to furnish us with a variety of commodities at rea- 
sonable rates, to be received by us in Europe and paid 
for here. We advise them to send their goods in their 
own ships, and protect their own trade to and from our 

We enclose you a copy of the memorial we sent to 
Portugal, to which we have yet received no answer. 
That court has been lately much employed in adjusting 
its differences with Spain, which it is said are now nearly 
all accommodated, and that they will accede to the fam- 
ily compact. 

This court continues the same conduct that it has held 
. ever since our arrival. It professes to England a resolu- 
tion to observe all treaties, and proves it by restoring 
prizes too openly brought into their ports ; imprisoning 
such persons as are found to be concerned in fitting out 

310 UFE OF 

armed vessels against England from France.; warning 
frequently those from America to depart, and repeating 
orders against the exportation of warlike stores. To us 
it privately professes a real friendship, wishes success to 
our cause, winks at the supplies we obtain here as much 
as it can, without giving open grounds of complaint to 
England, privately affords ud very essential aids,, and 
goes on preparing for war. How long these two parts 
will continue to be acted at the same time; and which 
will finally predominate, may be a question. As it is the 
true interest of France to prevent our being re-annexed 
to Britain, that the British power may be diminished, 
and the French commerce augmented, we are inclined 
to believe the sincerity is towards us ; more especially 
as the universal bent of the nation is manifestly in our 
favour. Their not having yet commenced a war, is ac- 
counted for by various reasons : the treaties subsisting 
among the powers of Europe, by which they are obliged 
to aid those attacked more than those attacking, which 
it is supposed will make some difference ; the not being 
fully prepared ; the absence of their seamen in the fish* 
ery and West Indies ; and the treasure expected from 
New Spain, with the sugars from the islands, have all, 
it is said, hitherto contributed to restrain the national 
desire of a breach with England, in which her trouble- 
some power may be reduced, the wealth and strength of 
France increased, and some satisfaction obtained for the 
injuries received in the unfair commencement of the last 
war. England too is extremely exasperated at the sight 
of her lost commerce enjoyed by France, the favour our 
armed vessels have met with here, and the distress of 
their remaining trade by our cruisers, even on their own 
coasts ; and yet she seems afraid of beginning a war with 
this country and Spain together, while ;she has our war 
upon her hands. In such a situation, some accident may 
probably bring on a war sooner than desired by either 
party. In the mean time, perhaps the delay may have 
this good effect for us, that enjoying the whole harvest 
oi plunder upon the British commerce, which otherwise 
France and Spain would divide with us, our infant naval 


power finds sucb plentiful nourishment as has increased 
and must increase its growth and strength most marvel- 

It gave us great joy to hear of the arrival of the Mer- 
cury, Amphitrite^ and other vessels carrying supplies. 
Another ship with a similar cargo, which had long been 
detained at Marseilles^ we hope will soon arrive with 
you. We hope also that you will receive between twen- 
ty and thirty thousand suits of clothes before winter, and 
fronl time to time quantities of new and good arms, 
which we are purchasing in different parts of Europe. 
But we must desire you to remember that we are, thus 
far, disappointed in your promises of remittance, either 
by the difficulties you find in shipping, or by captures, 
and that though far short of completing your orders, we 
are in danger of being greatly embarrassed by debts, of 
failing in performance of our contracts, and losing our 
credit, with that of the congress. For though we have 
received three quarterly payments of the two millions of 
livres formerly mentioned to you, and expect the last 
next month, our contracts go beyond ; and we must re- 
serve the continuance of that aid for the purpose it was 
promised, to answer your draughts for interest, if that 
proposal of ours has been adopted. Particularly we beg 
you will attend to the ^fiair of tobacco for the Farmers 
General, with whom we have contracted to supply 5000 
hogsheads, for which they have advanced us one million 
livres in ready money, and are to pay the rest on delive- 
ry, as we formerly advised you. Your vigorous exertions 
in these matters are the more necessary, as during the 
apparent or supposed uncertainty of our affairs, the loan 
we were directed to obtain of two millions sterling, has 
hitherto been judged impracticable. But if the present 
campaign should end favourably for us, perhaps we may 
be able to accomplish it another year, as some jealousy 
begins to be entertained of the English funds by the 
Dutch and other moneyed people of Europe, to the in- 
crease of which jealousy we hope a paper we have drawn 
up (a copy whereof we enclose) may in some degree 
contribute, when made public. , 


Mr:»Deane has written fully to you on the effect our 
cruisers have had on the coast and commerce of Britain, 
which makes our. saying much on that head unnecessary. 
We cannot, however, omit this opportunity of expressing 
our satisfaction in the conduct of the captains, and of 
recommending them warmly to the congress. The os- 
tensible letter and answer from and to the minister for 
foreign affairs, copies of which we enclose, will show the 
conduct which the court has thought and thinks itself at 
present obliged to hold with regard to our cruisers and 
their prizes, of which it seems fit some notice should be 
given to the several states. 

As the English goods cannot in foreign markets face 
those of the French or Dutch, loaded as they are with 
the high ensurance from which their competitors are ex- 
empted ; it is certain the trade of Britain must diminish 
while she is at war with us, and the rest of Europe at 
peace. To evade this mischief, she now begins to make ' 
use of French bottoms ; but as we have yet no treaty with 
France, or any other power that gives to free ships the 
privilege of making free goods, we may weaken that 
project by taking the goods of our enemy wherever we 
find them, paying the freight. And it is imagined that 
the captains of the vessels so freighted, may by a little 
encouragement be prevailed on to facilitate the necessary 

Sjpain not having yet resolved to receive a minister 
from the congress, Mr. Franklin still remains here. She 
has, however, afforded the aids we formerly mentioned, 
and supplies of various articles have continued till lately 
to be sent, consigned to Mr. Gerry, much of which we 
hear, have safely arrived. We shall use our best endeav- 
ours to obtain a continuance and increase of those aids. 

You will excuse our mentioning to you that our ex- 
penses here are necessarily very great, though we live 
with as much frugality as our public. character will per- 
mit. ' Americans who escape from English prisons 
destitute of every thing, and others who need assist- 
ance are continually calling upon us for it, and our funds 


are very uncertain, having yet received but about 64,571 
livres of what was allotted for our support by congress. 
The HofCble the Secret Committee.^^ 

A true copy ; attest, W. T. Frakklin* 

•* Passt, near Parib, Oct. 7th, 1777» 

Gentlemen,-— We received duly your despatches by Mr. 
McCrery and Capt. Young, dated May 20th and 30th, 
June 13th, 18th, and 26th, and July 2d. The intelligence 
they contain is very particular and satisfactory. It re- 
joices us informed that unanimity continues to reign 
among the states, and that you have so good an opinioQ 
of your aflfairs, in which we join with you. We under- 
stand that you have also written to us of later dates, by 
Capt. Holm. He is arrived at port L'Orient, but being 
- chased and nearly taken, he sunk his despatches. 

We are also of your sentiments with regard to the in- 
terests of France and Spain respecting our independence, 
which interests we are persuaded they see as well as we, 
though particular present circumstances induce them to 
postpone the measures that are proper to secure those 
mterests. They continue to hold the same conduct de- 
scribed in our- last, which went by Wickes and Johnson, 
a copy whereof we send herewith, as Johnson is unfortu- 
nately taken ; we have lately presented an earnest me- 
morial to both courts, stating the difficulties of our situa- 
tion, and requesting that if they cannot immediately make 
a diversion in our favour, they would give a subsidy suffi- 
cient to enable us to continue the war without them, or 
affi)rd the states their advice and influence in making a 
good peace. Our present demand to enable us to fulfil 
your orders, is for about 8,000,000 livres. Couriers we 
understand are despatched with this memorial to Madrid, 
by both the ambassador of Spain and the minister here ; 
and we are desired to wait with patience the answer, as 
the two courts must act together. In the mean time they 
give us fresh assurances of their good will to our cause, 
and we have Just received a fourth sum of 500,000 livres. 
But we are continually charged to keep the aids that are 
or may be afibrded us a dead secret even from the congress, 


where they suppose England has some intelligence ; and 
they wish she may have no certain proofs to produce 
against them with the other powers of Europe. The 
apparent necessity of your being informed of the true 
state of your affairs, obliges us to dispense with this in- 
junction ; but we entreat that the greatest care may be 
taken that no part of it shall transpire, nor of the assur- 
ances we have received that no repayment will ever be 
required from us of what has been already given us, either 
in money or military stores. The great desire here seems 
to be that England should strike first, and not be able 
to give her allies a good reason. The total failure of re- 
mittances from you for ^ long time past, has embarrassed 
us exceedingly; the contract we entered into for clothing 
and arms in expectation of those remittances, and which 
are now beginning to call for payment, distress us much, 
and we are in imminent danger of bankruptcy ; for all 
your agents are in the same situation, and they all recur 
to us to save their and your credit- We were obliged to 
discharge a debt of Merckles at Bourdeaux, amounting 
to about 5000 livres,to get that vessel away, and he now 
duns us every post for between 4 and £5000 sterling to 
disengage him in Holland, where he has purchased arms 
for you. With the same view of saving your credit Mr. 
Ross was furnished with £20,000 sterling to disentangle 
him. All the captains of your armed vessels come to us 
for their supplies, and we have not received a farthing of 
the produce of their prizes, as they are ordered into other 
hands. Mr. Hodge has had large sums of us. But to 
give you some idea for the present, till more perfect ac- 
count can be rendered, of the demands upon us that 
we have paid, we enclose a sketch for your perusal; and 
shall only observe that we Iiave refused no applica- 
tion in which your credit appeared to be concerned, ex- 
cept one from the creditors of a Mr. Ceronis, said to be 
your agent in Hispaniola, but of whom we had no know- 
ledge; and we had reason to hope that you would have 
been equally ready to support our credit as we have been 
of yours, and from the same motives, the good of the 
public for whom we are all acting, the success of oar 



business depending considerably upon it. We are sorry 
therefore to find all the world acquainted here, that the 
commissioners from congress have not so much of your 
regard as to obtain the change of a single agent who dis-^ 
graces us all. We say no more of this at present, con- 
tenting ourselves with the consciousness that we recom- 
mended that change from the purest motives, and that the 
necessity of it, and our uprightness in proposing it, will 
soon fully appear. 

Messrs. Guardoqui, at Bilboa, have sent several car^^ 
goes of naval stores, cordage, sail-cloth, anchors, &c. for 
the public use, consigned to Elbridge Gerry, Esq. They 
complain that they have no acknowledgment from that 
gentleman of the goods being received, though they know 
the vessels arrived. We have excused it to them, on the 
supposition of hid being absent at congress. We wish 
such acknowledgment may be made, accompanied with 
some expressions of gratitude towards tl|^ose from whom 
the supplies came, without mentioning who they are sup* 
posed to be. You mention the arrival of the Amphitrite 
and Mercury, but say nothing of the cargoes. 

Mr. Hodge is discharged from his imprisonment on our 
solicitation, and his papers restored to him. He was well 
treated while in the Bastile. The charge against him 
was, deceiving the government in fitting out Cunningham 
from Dunkirk, who was represented as going on some 
trading voyage, but as soon as he was out began a cruise 
on the British coast, and took six sail. He is now safe 
in. Ferrol. 

We have received and delivered the commissions to 
Mr. W. Lee and Mr. Izard. No letters came with them 
for those gentlemen with information how they are to 
be supported on their stations. We suppose they write 
to you, and will acquaint you with their intentions* 

Some propositions are privately communicated to us, 
said to be on the part of Prussia, for formbg a commer- 
cial company at Embden. We shall put them into the 
hands of Mr. Lee. 

We do not see a probability of our obtaining a loan of 
the £2,000,000 sterling from any of the numey holders io 

VOL. I. 41 • 


Europe, till our afiairs are in their opinion more firmly 
established ; what may be obtained from the two crowns 
either as loan or subsidy, we shall probably know on the 
return of the couriers, and we hope we shall be able to 
write more satisfactorily on those heads by Capt. Young, 
who will by that time be ready to return. 

With the greatest respect, we have the honour to be 
gentlemen, your most obedient humble servants, . 

Benjamin Fkankun, 
Silas Deane, 
Arthur Lee. 
To the Han?ble the Secret Committee.'^ 

(True copy.) Attest, W. T. Franklin. 

" Passt, Nov. 30tb, 1777. 

Gentlemen, — In a former letter we acquainted you 
that we had engaged an officer, one of the most skilful 
in naval affairs that this country possessed, to build us .a 
frigate in Holland, on a new construction (draughts of 
which we sent you), and to go over in her to America and 
enter your sea service. The frigate is almost finished. 
She is very large, is to carry 30 twenty-four-pounders on 
one deck, and is supposed equal to a ship of the line. 
But the infinite difficulties we find in equipping and 
manning such a ship in any neutral port, under the re- 
trictions of treaties, together with the want of supplies 
from you, have induced us to sell her to the king, who 
by a large pension offered to our officer, has engaged him 
to remain in his service, and pays us what we have ex-* 
pended on her. 

We have built a small frigate at Nantes, which we 
hope to get away soon, laden with supplies of various 
sorts. We meet with difficulties too in shipping arms 
and ammunition in her, but hope they will be surmount- 
ed. Several other vessels, some under the direction of 
Mr. Ross, others belonging to French merchants, are 
almost ready to sail for America, and we had thoughts of 
sending them in a little fleet under convoy of the Ra- 
leigh and Alfred ; but on consultation, considering the 
spies maintained hj England in all the ports, and thence 
the impossibility of making up such a fleet, without its 


being known so as to give time for a superior force to lie 
in wait for it, we concluded the chance better, to send 
them off singly as they should be ready. In these ves- 
sels are clothes ready made for 3,000 men, besides arms^ 
cloths, linens, and naval stores to great amount, bought 
by us and Mr. Ross. The private adventures also will 
be very considerable. And as we shall continue our 
endeavours to complete your orders, we hope if the ships 
have common success in passing, you will be better pro- 
vided for the next campaign than you have been for any 
of the preceding. 

How we are enabled to make these supplies must be 
a matter of some surprise to- you, when you reflect that 
little or nothing from you has been received by us since 
what came by Capt. Wickes, till now by the arrival of 
the Amphitrite ; and that the seeming uncertainty of 
your public affairs have prevented hitherto our obtaining 
the loan proposed. We have however found or made 
some friends who have helped, and will, we are confi- 
dent, continue to help us. 

Being anxious for supporting the credit of congress 
paper money, we procured a fund for payment of the in- 
terest of all the congress had proposed to borrow. And 
we mentioned in several of our letters, that we should 
be ready to pay all bills drawn for the discharge of such 
interest to the full value in money of France, that is five 
livres for every dollar of interest due. We were persuad- 
ed that thus fixing the value of the interest would fix the 
value of the principal, and consequently of the whole 
mass. We hope this will be approved, though we have 
yet no answer. We cannot apply that fund to any other 
purpose, and therefore wish to know as soon as may be 
the resolution of congress upon it. Possibly none of 
those letters have reached you, for your answers have 
miscarried ; for the interceptions of our correspondence 
have been very considerable. Adams, by whom we 
wrote early in the summer, was taken on this coast, hav- 
ing sunk his despatches. We hear that Hammond shar- 
ed the same fate on your coast. Johnson, by whom we 
wrote in September, was taken going out of the channel; 

<M UF£ OF 

and poor Capt. Wickes, who sailed at the same time 
and had duplicates, we just now hear has foundered near 
Newfoundland, every man perishing but the cook. This 
loss is extremely to be lamented ; as he was a gallant 
officer and a very worthy man. Your despatches also, 
which were coming by a small sloop from Morris's River, 

and by the ^ Packet, were both sunk on the vessels 

being boarded by English men-of-war. The Amphi- 
trite's arrival with a cargo of rice and indigo, 1000 bar- 
rels of the one and 20 of the other, is a seascmable sup- 
ply to us for our support, we not having for some time 
past (as you will see by pur former letters) any expecta- 
tions of farther supply from Mr. Morris ; and though we 
live here with as much frugality as possible, the unavoid* 
able expenses and the cojitinual demands upon us for 
assistance to Americans who escape from English prisons, 
&c. &c. endanger our being brought to great difficul- 
ties for subsistence. The freight of that ship too calls 
for an enormous sum, on account of her long demurrage* 
We begin to be much troubled with complaints of our 
armed vessels taking the ships and merchandise of neu- 
tral nations. From Holland they complain of the tak- 
ing of the sloop Chester, Capt. Bray, belonging to Rot- 
terdam, by two privateers of Cbarlestown, called the Fair 
American and the Experiment ; from Cadiz, of the 
taking the French ship Fortune, Capt. Kenguon, by the 
Civil Usage privateer, having on board Spanish property; 
and here of the taking the Emperor of Germany, from 
Cork, with beef belonging to the marine of France, just 
off the mouth of Bourdeaux River. We send herewith 
the report we have received, and answers given relating 
to these captures, and we earnestly request that if upon 
fair trials it shall appear that the allegations are true, 
speedy justice may be done, and restoration made to the 
reclaimers ; it being of the utmost consequence to our 
affiiirs in Europe, that we should wipe off the aspersions 
of our enemies, who proclaim us every where as pirates^ 
and endeavour to excite all the world against us. The 
Spanish affair has already had very ill effects at that 
court, as we learn by the return of the courier mentioned 


in our last. We have by letters to our correspondents 
at the severiil ports, done all in our power to prevent 
such mischiefs for the future, a copy of which we here* 
with send you. 

The European maritime powers embarrass themselves 
as well as us, by the double part their politics oblige 
them to act. Being in their hearts our friends, and wish-* 
ing us success, they would allow us every use of their 
ports consistent with their treaties, or that we can make 
of them without giving open cause of complaint to Eng* 
land. And it being so difficult to keep our privateers 
within those bounds, we submit it to consideration 
whether it would not be better to forbear cruising on 
the coasts and bringing prizes in here, till an open war 
takes place, which, though by no means certain, seems 
every now and then to be apprehended on both sides. 
Witness among other circumstances the recall of their 
fishing ships by France ; and the king of England's late 
speech. In consequence of this embarrassed conduct 
our prizes cannot be sold publicly, of which the purchas- 
ers, take advantage in beating down the price. And 
sometimes the admiralty courts are obliged to lay hold 
of them in consequence of orders from court, obtained 
by the English ambassador. Our people of course com- 
plain of this as unfriendly treatment ; and as we must not 
counteract the court, in the appearance they seem inclin- 
ed to put on towards England, we cannot set our folks 
right by acquainting them with the essential services our 
cause is continually receiviug from this nation; and we 
are apprehensive that resentment of that supposed un- 
kind usage, may induce some of them to make reprisals, 
and thereby occasion a great deal of mischief. You will 
-^see some reason for this apprehension in the letter from 
Capt. Babson, which we send you herewith, relating to 
their two prizes confiscated here for false entries, and 
afterwards delivered up to the English : for which how- 
ever we have hopes of obtaining full satisfaction, having 
already a promise of part. The king of England's 
speech, blusters towards those kingdoms, as well as to- 
wards us. He pretends to great resolution both of con- 

326 LIFE ot 

tinuing this war, and of making twp others, if they give 
him occasion. Yet it is conceived he will with difficulty 
find men or money for another campaign of that already 
on his hands ; and all the world sees that it is not for 
want of will that he puts up with daily known advantages 
afforded us hy his neighbours. They however, we have 
reason to believe, will not, as long as they can avoid it, 
begin the quarrel, nor give us any open assistance of 
ships or troops. Indeed we are scarce allowed to know 
that they give us any aid at all ; but are left to im- 
agine, if we please, that the cannon, arms, &c. which 
we have received and sent, are the effects of private 
benevolence and generosity. We have nevertheless the 
strongest reasons to confide that the same generosity 
will continue ; and it leaves America the glory of work- 
ing out her deliverance by her own virtue and bravery ; 
on which with God's blessing we advise you chiefly to 
depend. You will see by the papers, and a letter of in- 
telligence from London, that the continuance of the war 
is warmly condemned in parliament, by their wisest and 
ablest men, in the debates on the speech ; but the old 
corrupt majority continues to vote as usual, with the min- 
isters. In order to lessen their credit for the new loans, 
we have caused the paper which we formerly mentioned, 
to be translated and printed in French and Dutch by our 
agent in Holland. When it began to have a run there, 
the government forbid the farther publication, but the 
prohibition occasions it to be more sought after, read, 
and talked of. 

The monument for Gen. Montgomery is finished, and- 
gone to Havre in nine cases to lie for a conveyance. It 
is plaip but elegant, being done by one of the best artists 
here, who complains that the 300 guineas allowed him 
is too little ; and we are obliged to pay the additional 
charges of package, &c. We see in the papers that you 
have voted other monuments, but we have received no 
orders relating to them. 

The Raleigh and Alfred will be well fitted and fur- 
nished with every thing they want, the congress part 
of their prizes being nearly equal to their demands. 


Be pleased to present our dutiful respects to the con- 
gress, and assure them of our most faithful services. 

We have the honour to be gentlemen, your most obe- 
dient, humble servants. Benjamin Franklin, 

Silas Deane, 
Arthur Lee. 
The Honshu the Secret CammUteeJ^ 

« Paris, Dec. 18th, 1777. 

Gentlemen, — Since ours of Nov. 30th, a copy of which 
is herewith sent you, we received your despatches of 
Oct. 6tb, from York town ; they came to us by a packet 
from Boston, which brought the great news of Bur- 
goyne's defeat and surrender, news that apparently oc- 
casioned as much general Joy in France, as if it had been 
a victory of their own troops over their own enemies, 
such is the universal, warm, and sincere good will and 
attachment to us and our cau^e in this nation. We took 
the opportunity of pressing the ministry by a short me- 
morial to the conclusion of our proposed treaty, which had 
so long lain under their consideration, and been from 
time to time postponed. ^ A meeting was had according- 
ly, on Friday, the 12th inst., in which some difficulties 
were mentioned and removed, some explanations asked 
and given to satisfaction. As the concurrence of Spain 
is necessary, we were told that a courier should be des- 
patched the next day to obtain it, which we are since 
assured was done ; and in three weeks from the time 
the answer is expected. 

On signifying to the ministry the importance it might 
be of at this juncture, when probably Great' Britain would 
be making sotee propositions of accommodation, that the 
congress should be informed explicitly what might be ex- 
pected from France and Spain, M. Gerard, one of the 
secretaries, came yesterday to inform us by order of the 
king, that after long and full consideration of our affairs 
and propositions in council, it was decided, and his ma- 
jesty was determined, to acknowledge our independence 
and make a treaty with us of amity and comi])erce ; that 
in this treaty no advantage would be taken of our pre- 


sent situation, to obtain terms from us which otherwise 
would not be convenient for us to agree to, his majesty 
desiring that the treaty once made should be durable, 
and our amity subsist forever ; which could not be expect- 
ed if each nation did not find its interest in the continu- 
ance as well as in the qommelicement of it. It was 
therefore his intention that the terms of the treaty should 
be such, as we might be willing to agree to if our state 
had been long since established, and in the fullness of 
strength and power ; and such as we shall approve of 
when that time shall come. That his majesty was fixed 
in his determination not only to acknowledge but to sup- 
port our independence by every means in his power. 
That in doing this he might probably be soon engaged 
in war, with all the expenses, risk, and damage, usually 
attending it ; yet he should not expect any compensation 
from us on that account, nor pretend that he acted whol- 
ly for our sakes, since besides his real good will to us 
and our cause, it was manifestly the interest of France 
that the power of England should be diminished by oar 
separation from it. He should moreover not so much 
as insist, that if he engaged in a war with England oa 
our account, we should not make a separate peace: he' 
would have us be at full liberty to make a peace for our- 
selves, whenever good and advantageous terms were offer- 
ed to us. The only condition he should require and rely 
on would be this, that we, in no peace to be made with Eng- 
land, should give up our independency, and return to the 
obedience of that government. That as soon asr the couri- 
er returned from Spain with the concurrence expected, the 
affair would be proceeded in and concluded ; and of this we 
might give the congress the strongest assurance in our 
despatches, only cautioning them to keep the whole for 
the present a dead secret, as Spain had three reasons for 
not immediately declaring, her money fleet not yet come 
home, her Brazil army and fleet the same, and her peace 
with Portugal not quite completed ; but these obstacles 
would probably soon be removed. We answered, that i» 
what had teen communicated to us we perceived and 
admired the king's magnanimity and bis wisdom ; that 


he would find us faithful and firm allies, and we wished 
with his majesty that the amity between the two nations 
might be eternal. And mentioning that republics were 
usually steady in their engagements^ for instance the 
Swiss Cantons, the secretary remarked that France had 
been a^ steady with regard to them, two hundred years 
having passed since their first alliance for fifty years had 
commenced, which had been renewed from time to time ; 
and such had been her uniform good faith towards them, 
that, as it appeared in the last renewal, the protestant 
Cantons were free from their ancient prejudices and sus- 
picions, and joined readily with the rest in the league, of 
which we herewith send you a copy. 

It is sometime since we obtained a promise of an ad- 
ditional aid of three millions of livres, which we shall 
receive in January. Spain we are told will give an equal 
sum, but finding it inconvenient to remit here, she pur- 
poses sending it from the Havannah in specie to the con- 
gress. What we receive here will help to get us out of 

Our vessels laden with supplies have by various means 
been delayed, particularly by fear of falling into the hands 
of the English cruising ships, who swarm in the bay a^d 
channel. At length it is resolved they shall sail togeth- 
er, as they ^re all provided for defence, and we have ob- 
tained a king's ship to convoy them out of the channel, 
and we hope quite to America. They will carry we 
think to the amount of £70,000 sterling, and sail in a 
few days. Also, in consideration of the late frequent 
losses of our despatches and the importance of the pre- 
sent, we have applied for and obtained a frigate to carry 
them. These extraordinary favours, of a nature pro- 
voking to Great Britain, are marks of the sincerity of 
this court, and seem to demand the thanks of the con- 

We have accepted five bills drawn on us by the presi- 
detit in favour of some returned officers, and shall pay 
them punctually. But as we receive, no remittances for 
our support, and the cargo in the Amphitrite is claimed 
from us by Mr. Beaumarchais, and we are , not certain 

VOL. I. ' 42 


that we can keep it, we hope congress will be sparing 
in their draughts, except for the interest mentioned in our 
former letters; of which we now repeat the assurances 
of payment. Otherwise we may be much embarrassed, 
and our situation rendered extremely uncomfortable. 

It is said the French ambassador at London has de- 
sired to be recalled, being affronted there, where the 
late news from America has created a violent ferment. 
There is also talk here of Lord Stormont's recall. The 
stocks in England fall fast ; and on both sides there is 
every appearance of an approaching war. 

Being informed by the concurring reports of many 
who had escaped^ that our people, prisoners in England, 
are treated with great inhumanity, we have written a 
letter of expostulation to Lord North on the subject, 
which we sent over by a person express, whom we have 
instructed to visit the prisons under the directions of Mr. 
Hartley, to relieve in some degree the most necessitous. 
We shall hereafter acquaint you with the result. The 
expenses we are put to by those who get to us, are very 

The supplies now going out from hence, and what we 
have sent and are sending you from Spain, though far 
short of your orders, (which we have executed as far as 
we were able) will we hope, with private supplies en- 
couraged by us and others, put you in pretty good circum- 
stances as to clothing, arms, &c. if they arrive. And we 
shall continue to send as ability and opportunity may 

Please to present our best respects to the congress, and 
believe us to be, with sincere and great esteem, gentle- 
men, your most obedient and very humble servants, 

Benjamin Franklin, 
Silas Deane, 
Arthur Lee. 

To the Hon'ble Robert Morris^ Esq.^^ 
True copy. Attest. W. T. Franklin. 

« Passt, near Parii, Feb. 28th, 1778. 

Gentlemen, — Our despatches of Dec. , 18th, which 
would have acquainted you with the state of our affairs 


here, and our expectations of a speedy conclusion of 
the treaties with this court, are unfortunately returned ; 
the French man-of-war which went on purpose to carry 
them, having met with some disaster at sea, which 
obliged her to put back, after a long struggle of six weeks 
against contrary winds. We now have obtained another 
ship to sail with them immediately, and with our fresh 
despatches containing the treaties themselves, which 
were happily concluded and signed the 6th inst., though 
hitherto for some political reasons kept a secret ifrom the 

The English parliament adjourned in December, for 
six weeks. During that time their ministers strained 
every nerve to raise men for their armies, intending to 
continue the war with vigour. Subscriptions were set 
on foot to aid government in the expense, and they flat- 
tered themselves with being able to enlist 10,000 volun- 
teers. But whether they found this impracticable, or 
were discouraged by later accounts from America, or had 
some intimation of our treaties here, their vaunts and 
threats are suddenly abated; and on the 17th Lord 
North made a long discourse, acknowledging the errors 
of their former conduct in the war with America, and 
proposing to obtain peace by the means of two bills, of 
which we enclose copies. 

We make no remarks on these bills ; the judgment of 
the congress can be at no loss in determining on the con- 
duct necessary to be held with regard to them. And we 
are confident they will not answer the purpose of divid- 
ing in order to subjugate^ for which they are evidently in- 

Our states have now a solid support for their liberty 
and independence in their alliance with France, which 
will be certainly fallowed by that of Spain and the whole 
house of Bourbon, and probably by Holland and the 
other powers of Europe, who are interested in the free- 
dom of commerce, and' in keeping down the power of 
Britain. Our people are happy in the enjoyment of their 
new constitutions of government, and will be so in their 
extended trade and navigation, unfettered by English acts 


and custom-hoase officers. They will now never relish 
the Egyptian bondage from which they have so happily 
escaped. A long peace will probably be the consequence 
of their separation from England, as they have no cause 
of quarrel with other nations ; an immediate >var with 
France and Spain, if they join again with England, and 
a share in all her future wars, her debts, and her crimes. 
We are therefore persuaded that their commissioners 
will be soon dismissed if at all received, for the sooner 
the decided part taken by the congress is known in Eu- 
rope, the more extended and stable will be their credit, 
and their conventions with otheT powers more easy to 
make and more advantageous. 

Americans are every where in France treated with re- 
spect and every appearance of affection. We think it 
would be well to advise our people in all parts of Ame- 
rica to imitate this conduct with regard to the French who 
may happen to be among us. Every means should be. 
used to remove ancient prejudices, and cultivate a friend- 
ship that must be so useful to both nations. 

Some transactions here during the last four or five 
months, in the rigorous observance of treaties with regard 
to the equipments of our armed vessels in the ports, and 
the selling of our prizes, have no doubt made ill impres- 
sions on the minds of our seamen and traders relative 
to the friendship of this court. We were then obliged 
to observe a secrecy which prevented our removing those 
prejudices, by acquainting our people with the substantial 
aids France was privately affording us ; and we must 
continue in the same situation till it is thought fit to pub- 
lish the treaties. But we can with pleasure now ac- 
quaint you that we have obtained full satisfaction for the 
owners of the prizes confiscated here for a breach of the 
laws by a false declaration, they being entered as coming 
from Statia, and the payment will be made to the owners 
in America. We mean the prizes taken by CapL Bab- 
son and Hendricks in the Boston and Hancock privateers, 
which prizes after confiscation were, for reasons of state, 
restored to the English. This is a fresh proof of the 
good will and generosity of this court, and their deter- 
mination to cultivate the friendship of America. 


The preparations for war continue in all the ports with 
the utmost industry, and troops are marching daily to the 
sea coasts, where three camps are to be formed. As 
France is determined to protect her commerce with us» 
a war is deemed inevitable. 

Mr. W. Lee we suppose acquaints you with the de- 
cease of Mr. Morris, his colleague in the commercial 
agency. On our application to the ministry, an order 
was obtained to put Mr. Lee in possession of his papers. 
If that department has been found useful and likely to 
continue so, you will no doubt appoint one or more per- 
sons to take care of the business, as Mr. Lee has now 
another destination. Perhaps the general commerce like- 
ly to be soon opened between Europe and America, may 
render such an appointment unnecessary. We would 
just add for the consideration of congress, whether, con- 
sidering the mention of Bermudas in one of the articles, 
it may not be well to take possession of that island, with 
the consent of the inhabitants, and fortify the same as 
soon as possible. And also to reduce some or all of the 
English fishing posts in or near Newfoundland. 

With the greatest respect we have the honour to be, 
gentlemen, your most obedient humble servants. 

B. Franklin, 
S. Deane, 
A. Lee. 
Honshu the CommUtee for Foreign Affairs?^ 

Authentic copy. Attest, W. T. Franklin. 

(6) Extracts from the Journal of Mr. Lee. Journal 


" Paei3, Sept 26tb, 1777. 

Mr. Grand reported his having delivered the memoire 
for money to Count Vergennes, who said he must com- 
municate with the Spanish court upon the aid required. 
He was then informed that it had been communicated to 
Count d'Aranda, and pressed with the immediate neces- 
sity the commissioners were under for the money. Up- 

S34 LIF£ Of 

on that he promised to have it translated immediately, 
and laid before the king. In the evening Mr. G. carried 
to the Spanish ambassador a copy of the proposals made 
by order of congress to the French court, which up- 
on reading, he said had never before been mentioned to 

Mr. Lee conversing vrith Mons. Chaumont upon the 
present state of things, they agreed that there was no 
prospect of a war; but Mr. C. said the conduct of the 
ministry was totally incomprehensible, and perhaps when 
they had arranged leur petits affaires^ they might go to 
war. Mr. Lee asked htm whether he numbered their fi- 
nances in that description, and how they could go to war 
without money. He answ^ered that France was very 
differently circumstanced in that respect from other 
countries. For that the king could . at any time say to 
the public creditors, I must apply my revenue to the cur- 
rent expenses, and you must wait till it is convenient to 
pay you ; that this would occasion no disturbance. It 
was very desirable,' he said, in the actual situation of 
France to continue in peace, but that there was danger 
thereby at present of losing the national character of a 
warlike people, in which their glory and perhaps their 
safety consisted. 

27th. Mr. L. introduced Mr. Izard to the Abbe Ni- 
coli. In conversation the abbe observed, that when the 
states of America had established their independency 
they would quarrel among themselves, as the Italian and 
Grecian states had done ; that this would infallibly hap- 
pen, unless a similar mode of taxation was adopted 
among them all; and that none could be so proper as a 
general tax upon land, formed upon an universal and equal 
survey. Mr. Izard answered that nothing would be more 
unjust than such a tax, because the man who possessed 
ten thousand acres of uncultivated land would pay ten 
times as much as him who had a thousand acres in the 
most profitable cultivation* The abbe seemed to admit 
the justice of this objection ; upon which Mr. L. observ- 
ed, that for the very reason alleged against it, such a 
mode of taxation appeared to him the best that could 

ARTHUR LE£. 836 

be devised, because it would compel the great land- 
holders to cultivate their lands, or sell it out into parcels 
to those who could ; and therefore this tax would answer 
at once the public demands, and promote agriculture and 
industry. At the same time it seemed to him that rea- 
soning from ancient republics, whose employment and 
delight were war, to those of the present time, whose 
object were peace and commerce, was exceedingly erro- 
neous. It is certain, that with the Grecian and Roman 
states peace was painful, and war delightful; but with 
modern states it is directly the reverse ; therefore it is 
probable their conduct will be directly opposite. 

29th. Capt. Young, of the sloop Independence, arrived 
at Passy with despatches from congress. The letters 
were originals of copies received ten days before. With 
them came a commission for Mr. Izard to the court of 
Florence ; for Mr. W. Lee, to those of Vienna and Ber- 
lin, with instructions ; for myself to Madrid, with a re- 
servation of my powers at this court, while I remained 
in France.* 

30th. Received an account of the Lexington, Capt. 
Johnson, having been taken by an English cutter, after 
a long and obstinate engagement; in which most of her 
officers were killed. I read a paragraph to the com- 
missioners, in my brother Richard Henry Lee's letter, 
stating that without an alliance with France and Spain, 
with a considerable loan to support their funds, it would 
be difficult to maintain their independence. Resolved 
to send Mr. Grand next day to Count Vergennes, for an 
answer to their memoire* 

1st Oct. Mr. Grand reported that^ Count Vergennes 
had not yet laid the memoire before the king, and there- 
fore directed him to come on Friday, for an answer ; that 
he seemed to think the sum of fourteen millions of livrest 
a great demand ; that he talked of an alliance as a thing 
yet to be considered of; that it would involve all Europe, 
and assist us much less than we imagined. He said we 

* I desired the advice of the other commiaBionerB, about annovnciiig my appoint- 
ment immediately. Dr. F. said he would consider of it, and. the other said nothing, 
t The aett revenae of Franco is 400 miUions. 


were wrong in distrusting Maurepas and Necker, and 
still more in the unguarded manner in which we did 
business, so that Lord Stormont had apprized Mons. 
Maurepas, that a memoire was intended before it was 
presented, and on account of it, has written to him, Ver- 
^ennes, from England. He desired us to be more cau- 
tious, and to be assured that there was a traitor in the 
congress itself, who gave intelligence. Mr. Grand com- 
municated these things to me in private, and I de^red 
him to do it to all the commissioners together, that it 
might suggest to them some caution in the conduct of 
our affairs, which was open to all the world. He did so; 
and it was considered as a pretext for refusing to assist 
us by one, and as an unjust accusatipn by the other. It 
was said that if Lord Stormont had such information 
from some one about us, he would not have told it, be- 
cause that would prevent any farther communication, and 
therefore it seemed improbable that Lord Stormont had 
told them so. Mr. Lee said that in these cases Lord 
Stormont's object was to excite distrust and destroy all 
confidence between them, which it appeared he, aided 
by other things, had but too well effected. 

The discourse of an alliance was moved by Mr. Grand 
at my desire, and in consequence of my brother's letter. 
I drew up a short view of our situation for his instruc- 

3d Oct. Mr. Grand made his report that no answer 
could yet be given, only that we might be assured of the 
king's good disposition ; that Spain must be consulted, 
which would require some weeks ; that we must men- 
tion nothing farther to congress when we wrote, but that 
we had sent them such and such things, for which they 
need give themselves no trouble about making returns ; that 
nothing which we had received or were to receive was 
lent, but to be considered as given ; that war in Europe 
would disable them from aiding us with money, and 
perhaps be less advantageous to us than we imagined, 
because Great Britain would have powerful allies. Mr. 
Grand added that, as far as he could judge from the 
count's manner, every thing was favourably disposed, 
and we might jest satisfied of something being done. 


Mr. Grand proposed to the commissioners that they should 
make a present of. their ship in Holland to the king, as 
the only manner of getting her from thence, and this 
measure he understood would be very acceptable, and 
that Mr. Boux approved highly of the scheme. The com- 
missioners were of opinion that such a proposition should 
come from the- minister, without which it would be both 
foolish and indecent in them. Mr. Grand was therefore 
desired to state her situation to the minister, and inform 
him that the commissioners were ready to follow his ad- 
vice implicitly concerning the disposal of her. The his- 
tory of this vessel is curious enough. Soon after the 
commissioners arrived, Sir George Grand, banker at Am- 
sterdam, and then in Paris, Mr. Grand, and Mr. Chau- 
mont, all of whom were in the confidence of the minis- 
try and strongly recommended, introduced to us a Capt. 
Boux, of the French navy, of whom every good thing 
was said in the most exaggerated strain of commendation. 
He was the most ingenious, the most disinterested, and 
the most honest man in France ; zealous for our cause, 
and desirous of nothing so much as to get into our ser- 
vice, so entirely free from any selfish motive that he 
would go out of it naked, (such was the expression) as he 
came in. Well ; this extraordinary man laid before us 
a multitude of plans and schemes, which upon paper, and 
in terms which we did not understand, seemed exceed- 
ingly plausible. We were then told of the wonderful 
expedition, cheapness, and certainty of building frigates 
at Amsterdam ; the king of Spain had some built upon 
an excellent construction of 28 guns, for £7000 ; how- 
ever Sir George was soon to go thither, and he would 
send us an exact account, his intelligence was, that 
that they would cost 6000 each. In this situation of the 
affair, I went to Spain. While I was absent, the business 
was settled. Mr. Boux agreed to go, but with an an- 
nual pension of , all his expenses paid, and those of ^ 

his nephew, who was now introduced as one of the ne- 
cessary actors in fahulo. The first thing that happened 
upon his arrival was the drawing for £300,000, which 
VOL* I. 43 


was to build two frigates. When I returned from Spain, 
tbe letters from Sir G. and Mr. B. told us the agree- 
ment was made for one, the workmen not being able to 
undertake for more within the time limited. But no 
agreement was sent us. We wrote for the agreement, 
flattering ourselves that the half of what we had paid 
would be refunded. I told Mr. Deane then, that this 
was a vain expectation, for as he who paid beforehand 
was always made the paymaster for him who did not pay 
at all, there would be found ways and means to dispose 
of the money they had got into their hands. The agree- 
ment was at length sent, and it had absorbed every livre ; 
however, we were flattered with the vessel being invin- 
cible, that she would infallibly be at sea in such a time, 
and would soon reimburse us this extraordinary expense* 
Mr. Boux returned the beginning of May, having put 
every thing into so good a way that^ his presence it 
seemed was no longer necessary. Mr. Grand tells me 
Mr. Boux desired Mr. Oeane to settle the account of his 
expenses, which he had nevqr done. When I returned 
from Germany, I found Sir George was pressing for con- 
siderable sums more to equip and load the vessel. But 
our funds being exhausted, I suppose he was informed by 
Mr. Grand here that nothing more ws^s to be expected, 
and our next tidings was the melancholy information, that 
it was impossible we should get sailors to man her. It 
was therefore agreed to sell her, and the success they 
had in drawing us into this foolish and expensive scheme, 
induced them probably to think that we might be duped 
still farther, in the proposition I have mentioned, which 
though it appeared absurd and extravagant to us, yet no 
doubt was some how or other to turn out to Mr. Boux's 

15th. The commissioners received a letter from Capt. 
Thompson^ commander of the Raleigh at Port Louis, in- 
forming them of his arrival there, in company with the 
Black Prince ship of war and two West India prizes, 
and that he was under our orders, as appeared from a 
letter from the marine committee signed John Hancock, 
Richard Henry Lee, Whipple, and others. He sent us 



also a joifniaf of hb cruise, by which it appeared he had 
fallen in with the Jamaica fleet, sind almost sunk the Dru- 
id, one of her convoy ; the whole of which he would have 
destroyed, but that the Black Prince was so tender that 
she could not carry sail nor assist him. We received the 
same day an account of the arrival of Mr. Chaumont's 
French packet, bufhaving been boarded by a man-of-war, 
the despatches for us were thrown overboard. Mr. Girar- 
dot, the banker, assured us there were more than fifty sail 
to go soon from France with merchandise for America. 

16th. I had some conversation with Mr. Deane upon 
Mr. Ross's scheme, which he said had occurred to him. 
He was for directing a rendezvous at Martinique, and 
getting a great many private adventurers, some of whom 
he said would carry upwards of 30 guns, to join the 
squadron. I gave him my opinion, that the success did 
not depend so much upon the greatness of the force, as 
upon the secrecy of the expedition. That if it was com- 
mitted to others it would be impossible to keep it se- 
cret, especially to Frenchmen, whose manner was to talk 
much, do little, and protract every thing. I added that if 
the scheme was judged proper, the best way would be 
to leave the execution of it to one of our number, say Mr. 

1 7th. Mr. Ross breakfasted with Mr. Lee, and the 
above conversation was communicated to him. He 
seemed satisfied that it would not be safe to extend it to 
others. Mr. Lee promised him a letter to Mr. Gardo- 
qui, in Spain, requesting him to take a cargo belong- 
ing to Mr. Ross out of the hands of a merchant at Co- 

Ittth. Signed a receipt to the king's treasurer for half 
a million of livres, paid to our banker, Mr. Grand, from 
whom we took a receipt. Mr. G. had received a note to 
come to Fontainbleau, to talk with M. de Sartine about 
the vessel at Amsterdam. Mr. Deane proposed accom- 
panying him, but without any communication with Mr. 
L. I desired Mr. G. to request of Mons. Ver^ennea 
that he would give us any information he could^ touching 

840 UPE OF 

the negotiations of England in Russia and Germany for 
new troops, and what were the enemy's plans for anoth- 
er campaign. That it was of consequence to give con- 
gress the earliest possible intelligence upon this subject, 
that they might prepare accordingly. 

1 9th. Mr. Lee was employed in extracting from the 
journals of congress, their proceedings -relative to the pri- 
soners made from the enemy. Copies of these he meant 
to distribute over Europe, in answer to the calumnies of 
the British court, and to show how unjustifiable the cru- 
el conduct of that court to Ametrican prisoners ought to 
be deemed. 

Mr. Lee received the - following "bote and letter from 
Mr. Deane. 

" Mr. Deane's compliments to Mr. Lee, and encloses 
him a letter from Mr. S. Deane, which is on a subject 
that ought to be early attended to, and which Mr. Hodge 
and Mr. Carmichael can explain. Mr. D. proposes set- 
ting out this afternoon, and returning on Tuesday* 

Sunday Morning." 

« Dunkirk, Oct. 15tb, 1777. 

Honoured Gentlemen, — ^On my arrival here I follow- 
ed your instructions concerning the vessel to be equipped 
at L'Orient. A difficulty arises about sendipg her from 
hence. Mr. Morrell haying some time since been inform- 
ed from the ministry that the vessel could not be permit- 
ted to depart the port. He informed Mr. Cailly of this 
circumstance, in consequence of which Mr. Cailly writes 
Mr. Chaumont by this post, and waits his answer as far- 
ther orders in the affair. 'Tis likely his letter to Mr. 
Chaumont, containing a copy of my direction to him, will 
be shown you. This with Mr. MorrelPs letter will fully 
explain the matter, and I make no doubt the sloop may 
soon be allowed to pass, as she will have neither guns 
nor warlike stores on board. I must beg leave to inform 
your honours that there are several Americans still here, 
and at a considerable expense, which has been represented 
to me by Mr. Coffin, the broker, who has advanced con- 


siderablj for them, and would be glad to receive orders 
bow to conduct in future. Mr. Carmichael or Mr. Hodge 
can likely inform you of farther particulars on this sub« 
ject- Their spiritual guide is still here, and very needy, 
and I am told ready at any thing. I must remark to your 
honours, that it is necessary the sums already advanced 
by Mr. Coffih be now replaced, and some orders given 
for his conduct in future on that head, as those persons, 
unless restricted to a certain daily allowance, may expend 
too freely. As the bills are considerably in arrears, un- 
less something is determined about their payment, and 
the management in future, it will not only be hard usage 
on those who have advanced the money, but must direct- 
ly deprive those American people of any farther assist- 
ance. In gratitude to the gentlemen with whom your 
business has been entrusted here, at least so far as I have 
been introduced to them, I must take the liberty to ac- 
knowledge their civility and readiness in each particular, 
and remain your honours' most devoted and obedient 
servant, Simeon Deane. 

The Honshu Commiasumers /ram the United Slates. " 

To Mr. D.'s note I answered that I should be ready 
to consider the business mentioned, with which I was 
as yet entirely unacquainted, whenever a time was ap- 

21st. Received a letter from Baron Schulenburg in- 
forming me that his Prussian majesty could not admit 
our armed vessels into his ports, and must wait a more 
favourable opportunity of forming a connexion with 
us, which would give him much satisfaction, when it 
could be done consistently with his principles. This 
letter I carried to Dr. F., Mr. D. having set out for Fon- 
tainbleau the evening before. 

23d. Answered Baron Schulenburg's letter, express- 
ing my regret that we could not form a connexion with 
a monarch of such reputation for wisdom and for valour. 
Hoped he would use his influence to prevent our enemies 
from drawing reinforcements from Germany, Russia, or 


LIFE or 



Denmark, and that the baron would communicate to me 
what success the negotiations of our enemies were likely 
to have on that subject. 

24th. Dined at Passy. No communication from Mr. 
Deane of what passed at Fontainbleau. Asked Dr. F. 
for Count Vergennes's letter, our last memorial and let- 
ter to the committee, that I might copy them. Prom- 
ised them to-morrow. Upon enquiring whether any an- 
swer had been received from Capt Thompson, a letter 
was produced which had been received some days, in which 
the captain observed that Mr. Morris had applied to him 
for the sale of the prizes, to which he answered that he 
had put them into hands recommended by the commis- 
sioners. From this it appeared that he understood a let- 
ter which Mr. Deane wrote, and Mr. L. would not sign 
for th^t reason, as a direction to put the prizes into othet 
hands than those appointed by the committee, which we 
had no right to do, and which was raising disputes very 
indecently and unwisely. AH this I told Mr. Deane, 
when he wanted me to sign the letter, but it went, and I 
have my share of the blame. I mentioned to Dr. F. the 
necessity of our sending congress an account of the ex- 
penditure of the three millions of public money that had 
passed through our hands, and which he had informed 
me was to be done by the last opportunity. He said the . 
principal articles to which it had been applied were 
sketched in some former letter. I asked for a copy of 
the articles sent from Marseilles, which had been in his 
hands for some time without my having seen it. It was 
agreed that Mr. Ross should be desired to meet Us next 
day, to talk farther upon his scheme, and Dr. F. said he 
would write to Capt. Thompson to come up while his 
ship was refitting to settle the plan of their going to- 
gether. Mr. Lee thought this would delay his fitting 
out, and create a considerable unnecessary expense ; be- 
cause if there was any hope of secrecy it must not be 
communicated to any of the captains till they reached 
the place of rendezvous, and upon secrecy the success 
entirely depended. Dr. F. observed upon this that it 
had already been talked of, for Mr. Izard had mentioned 


it to him yesterday, therefore some one must have told 
it to him. This is the second instance of the difficulty 
of keeping any thing secret. When I was going to Ber- 
lin no one was acquainted with it but the other commis- 
sionersy Mr. Carmichael, who then pretended an inten- 
tion of going with me as secretary, and the grand duke's 
envoy, from whom I received directions concerning my 
route. And yet Dr. F. complained, in a manner which 
seemed to charge me with having discovered it, that Mr. 
Sayre mentioned it to him, and Mr. Carmichael declared 
Mr« T. had told him he had the information from me. 
lliis Mr. T. has not only denied under his hand, but 
acknowledged, what was the fact, that I communicated 
it to him two days only before I set out. In the same 
manner after all the injunctions of secrecy, Mr. Ross 
had discovered his scheme to Mr. Izard. 

25th. Having some conversation with Dr. F. upon the 
present state of, things, he seemed to agree with me in 
thinking that France and Spain mistook their interest 
and opportunity in not making an alliance with us now, 
when they might have better terms than they could ex- 
pect hereafter. That it was well for us they left us to 
work out oar own salvation ; which the efforts we had 
hitherto made^ and the resources we had opened, gave 
us the fairest reason to hope we should be able to do. 
He told me the manner in which the whole of this busi- 
ness had been conducted, was such a miracle in human 
affairs, that if he had not been in^the midst of it, and 
seen all the movements, he could not have comprehended 
how it was effected. To comprehend it we must view 
a whole people for some months without any laws or gov- 
ernment at all. In this state their civil governments 
were to be formed, an army and navy were to be pro- 
vided by thos^ who had neither a ship of war, a com- 
pany of soldiers, nor magazines, arms, artillery or am- 
munition. Alliances were to be formed, for they had 
none. All this was to be done, not at leisure nor in a 
a time of tranquillity and communication with other na- 
tions, but in the face of a most formidable invasion, by 

344 LIFE OF 

the most powerful nation, fully provided with armies, 
fleets, and all the instruments of destruction, powerfully 
allied and aided, the commerce with other nations in a 
great measure stopped up, and every power from whom 
they could expect to procure arms, artillery , and ammuni- 
tion, having by the influence of their enemies forbade 
their subjects to supply them on any pretence whatever. 
Nor was this all ; they had internal opposition to encoun- 
ter, which alone would seem su£Eicient to have frustrated ' 
all their efforts. The Scotch, who in many places were 
numerous, were secret or open foes as opportunity offer- 
ed. The Quakers, a powerful body in Pennsylvania, 
gave every opposition their art, abilities and influence 
could suggest. To these were added all those whom 
contrariety of opinion, tory principles, personal animosi- 
ties, fear of so dreadful and dubious an undertaking, 
joined with the artful promises and threats of the enemy 
rendered open or concealed opposers, or timid neutrals, 
or lukewarm friends to the proposed revolution. It was, 
however, formed and established in despite of all these 
obstacles, with an expedition, energy, wisdom, and suc- 
cess of which most certainly the whole history of human 
affairs has not, hitherto, given an example. To account 
for it we must remember that the revolution was not di- 
rected by the leaders of faction, but by the opinion and 
voice of the majority of the people ; that the grounds 
and principles upon which it was formed were known, 
weighed and approved by every individual of that major- 
ity. It was not a tumultuous resolution, but a deliberate 
system. Consequently, the feebleness, irresolution, and 
inaction which generally, nay, almost invariably attends 
and frustrates hasty popular proceedings, did not influ- 
ence this. On the contrary, every man gave his assist- 
ance to execute what he had soberly determined, and 
the sense of the magnitude and danger of the undertak- 
ing served only to quicken their activity, roiise their re- 
sources, and animate their exertions. Those who acted 
in council bestowed their whole thoughts upon the pub- 
lic ; those who took the field did, with what weapons, 
ammunition and accommodation they could procure. 


In commerce, such profits were offered as tempted the 
individuals of almost all nations, to break through the 
prohibition of their governments, and furnish arms and 
ammunition, for which they received from a people 
ready to sacrifice every thing to the common cause, a 
thousand fold. The effects of anarchy were prevented 
by the influence of public shame, pursuing the man who 
offered to take a dishonest advantage of the want of law. 
So little was the effects of this situation felt, that a gen- 
tleman, who thought their deliberations on the establish- 
ment of a form of government too slow, gave it as his 
opinion that the people were likely to find out that laws 
were not necessary, and might therefore be disposed 
to reject what they proposed, if it were delayed. Dr. 
Franklin assured me that upon an average he gave twelve 
hours in the twenty-four to public business. One may 
conceive what progress must be made from such exer- 
tions of such an understanding, aided by the co-operation 
of a n)nltitude of others upon such business, not of in^ 
ferior abilities. The consequence was, that in a few 
months, the governments were established ; codes of lav 
were formed, which, for wisdom and justice, are the ad- 
miration of all the wise and thinking men in Europe. 
Ships of war were built, a multitude of cruisers were 
fitted out, which have done more injury to the British 
commerce than it ever suffered before. Armies of of- 
fence and defence were formed, and kept the field, 
through all the rigours of winter, in the most rigorobs 
climate. Repeated losses, inevitable in a defensive war, 
as it soon became, served only to renew exertions that 
quickly repaired them. The enemy was every where 
resisted, repulsed, or besieged. On the ocean, in the 
channel, in their very ports, their ships were taken, and 
their comnxerce obstructed. The greatest revolution the 
world ever saw, is likely to be effected in a few years ; 
and the power that has for centuries made all Europe 
tremble, assisted by 20,000 German mercenaries, and 
favoured by the universal concurrence of Europe to 
prohibit the sale of warlike stores, the sale of prizes, or 
the admission of the armed vessels , of America, will be 
VOL. I. 44 

846 LIFE OF 

effectually humbled bj those whom she insulted and in- 
jured, because she conceived they had neither spirit nor 
power to resist or revenge it, 

Nov. 1st. Called upon Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane. 
The latter showed me a letter from the king's officer at 
Nantes, informing him that he had express orders not to 
suffer any warlike stores to be shipped in the vessel we 
were fitting out ; without a reversal it would he impossi- 
ble to permit it. Mr. Deane made an appointment for 
me to meet next day at 11 oVlock, to consider the pro- 
position of borrowing the two .millions as we were di- 

2d. Going to Passy, according to the appointment, I 
found Mr. Deane had set out for Fontainbleau with Mr. 
Chaumont, to endeavour to obtain from Mons. Sartine a 
reversal of the above orders. Dr. F. Was to open the let- 
ters, and then send-them after Mr. D. All this was done 
without one word of consultation with me, or the least 
j I attention to me. Dr. F. mentioned the affair of borrow- 
ing money. I told him I could not discover that con- 
gress had directed us what to. do with the money if 
we borrowed it ; that if it was to be expended by us, it 
was proper we should give an account first of what bad 
already passed through our hands ; that I was very un- 
easy at being responsible for so great a sum of public 
money, without being able to obtain any account of its 
expenditure, which I had repeatedly desired might be 
made out. He answered it was as much my business as 
his; why did I not make it out? there was no reason to 
suspect any misapplication. I replied he had certain- 
ly misapprehended me. I had suggested no suspicion, 
but desired that which was just, reasonable, and absolute- 
ly necessary. I appealed to him whether I had ever re- 
fused to bear my part in doing business; but to make out 
an account when I was not possessed of a single paper 
for the purpose, was not possible. A great deal of the 
money had been expended in my absence, and almost all 
without consulting me. In consequence I was utterly in- 
capable of giving any account of the expenditure. He 
said I had as many papers concernipg it as he had ; that 


we had sent an account of the principal articles in our 
last despatches to congress. I said I could not recollect 
it. He called for the paper, and it appeared to be only 
the estimate of what we were to expend, with very lit- 
tle account of what we had spent. He then proposed 
we should altogether collect the account from Mr. Deane's 
books. But when, he would not determine, and so that 
went off like every thing else, unsatisfactorily. We 
went to Mr. Grand's, who showed us a note from Count 
Vergennes desiring to see him, iii consequence of which 
he set out immediately for Fontainbleau. 

3d. A letter from a merchant in Rotterdam, with veri- 
fied papers to show that two American privateers had 
made prize of a vessel and her cargo, which were Dutch 

4tb. Mr. Grand returned* He delivered a letter from 
Mr. D. to Dr. F., in which he informed him that he should 
stay a day longer at Fontainbleau, without any notice of 
the other commissioner. Mr. Grand's message was, that 
the king had agreed to let us have three millions of livres, 
at different payments, on consideration of most profound 
secrecy, that we should not enter in any accommodation 
without informing him, and that if that took place before 
the money was all paid, the remainder should be with- 
held. The minister told him that they would endeavour 
to obtain as much from Spain ; that orders had been re- 
ceived there for sending supplies, but upon the capture of 
a French ship with Spanish property, by an American 
privateer, the king was so enraged that they were coun- 
termanded. He advised us to write a very civil letter to 
Spain, which he conceived would adjust every thing, be- 
cause the king was as forgiving as he was violent. He 
said their navy was in great forwardness, but would not 
be ready till next spring. He also assured Mr. G. that 
it was settled to purchase the ship in Holland for the 
king's use. Upon Mr. G.'s applying to Mr. Sartine, he 
wrote him an equivocal answer, and upon a second appli- 
cation the purchase was acknowledged. 

.0th. Mr. Lee undertook to answer the letters from 
Rotterdam, and Dr. F. to draw up one for Spain. 

348 LIFE OF 

6tb. Mr. G. waited on the Spanish ambassador, to 
whom at Mr. Lee's desire he mentioned Mn Lee's com- 
mission for the court of Spain, and desired his advice 
whether it should be announced immediately. He said 
that would depend upon there being new instructions 
with it ; which Mr. L. afterwards informed him was not 
the case. He said he was very well satisfied with what 
he had seen in the dock-yards ; that he would go to Fon- day, and on his return give us more par- 
ticular information relative to his court. 

Bth. Dr. F. and Mr. D. being to dine with Mr. L. he 
wrote to Dr. F. in the morning, desiring him to bring the 
letter for Spain with him, that they might consider and 
sign it ready to be sent on Monday the 10th. A rough 
draught was brought, and left with Mr. L. to consider. 
Mr. L. received a letter from Madrid, to inform him 
that a plan had been settled for. supplying the states 
with goods, but to W^hat amount, or when it should 
begin, was yet undetermined. He communicated this 
letter to the other commissioners, with his intention to 
order ten thousand blankets to be shipped immediately, 
which he would pay for out of the Spanish fund. 

9th. Met the commissioners at Passy, when they con- 
sidered the letter for Spain, -with the alterations pro- 
posed by Mr. Lee, and Dr. F. was to have it copied. 
The answer to Rotterdam was also to be copied. Mr. 
L. had drawn up an admonition to the captains of arm- 
ed vessels to be sent to the courts of France and Spain, 
and by them to. the sea-ports, in which they were enjoin- 
ed to be cautious of molesting neutral ships, without suf- 
ficient proof of their having the effects of the enemy on 
board. Mr. Deane objected to sending this, because he 
said Mr. Gerard had talked with him at Fontainbleau, 
and contended, that according, to the settled law of na- 
tions, a neutral ship had a jurisdiction like the realm of 
her sovereign, which protected all property in it. Dr. F. 
and Mr. L. were of opinion that this was not the law of 
nations, but matter of convention ; and which, if they 
conceded it, would be giving up one great inducement to 


the courts of Bourbon to enter into that commercial alli- 
ance they were ordered to negotiate, and in which that 
protection was to be allowed. 

Mr. G. re-delivered Mr. L. a letter, which Mr. L. had 
received from London^ acquainting him that the Jesuit 
who was hired by the British court to forge the letters 
called Montcalm's, was disgusted, and might be bought 
over. This he sent to Count Vergennes, whose answer 
was, that the Jesuit was a worthless wretch. The same 
letter contained farther observations on the proposed ne- 
gotiation, of which mention is made before, and stated 
that the British cabinet was so irresolute, that nothing 
could be expected. Mr. L. desired Mr. G. to write to 
Vienna for intelligence concerning the manoeuvres of 
Haldimand and Fawcett, that by comparing the intelli- 
gence through different channels, they might arrive at 
more certainty. 

1 2th. Being at Passy, Mr. L. found that the letter to 
Rotterdam had been sealed without his signing it. Mr. 
Deane's^ excuse was, that he was going to send it to 
me, but Dr. F. said, as the letter to which it was an 
answer was directed to them only, it was not necessary 
for Mr. L. to sign it. The captains Thomson and Hin- 
man were there, but had neither been directed to wait 
upon Mr. L., nor were introduced to him. Mr. D. not 
having informed Mr. L. what was determined at Fontain- 
bleau, relative to suspending the orders against their 
being allowed to ship ammunition, Mr. L. asked Mr/ 
Chaumont whether he was present with Mr. D. at Mons. 
de Sartine's? Mr. Chaumont said Mr. D. did not see 
Mr. Sartine at all; that he, Mr. Chaumont, negotiated 
the business, and that the answer was, when the ship 
was under sail, the ammunition must be smuggled on 

Mr. L. sent to Mr. Dumas extracts from the notes of 
congress, relative to the maintenance and humane treat- 
ment of the prisoners, with directions to publish them, 
as he had dpne the report to congress of the cruelties 
committed by the royalists, which Mr. L. had sent him 

350 LIFE OF 

13th. On going to Passy, Mr. L. found an appoint- 
ment had been made the day before with the captains 
Thomson and Hinman, of which he thought they were 
not apprised. The captains reported that they could be 
ready in twelve days after their return, to put to sea ; 
that they had sold their prizes for £9500, except the 
arms, artillery, and ammunition, which was 3000 less 
than their value, but that they were free of all risk ; that 
the continental part would be sufficient to pay all ex- 
penses of completing and refitting the frigates. They 
said congress had appointed a naval board at Boston, for 
New-England, to consist of a deputy from each New- 
England state ; that the 74-gun ship now building would 
be launched in the summer. The frigates could carry 
no goods, but would serve as convoy. The eastern ports 
they thought the safest. 

16th. Capt. Thomson delivered Mr. Lee, according 
to his desire, a list of such articles as would be most 
useful in the marine department. Mr. L. proposed to 
introduce the captains Thomson and Hinman to Capt. 
Boux, that they might consider and give their opinions 
of his plans. 

17th. Mr. L. went to Passy, with a draught of an an- 
swer to a letter from Mr. Sayre to Dr. Franklin, com- 
plaining of the hardship and injustice of his not having 
been provided for, when he had remained at the court 
of Berlin, and done honour to the American cause, 
which he should be obliged to abandon and return to 
London, if we would not support \\\m. The answer 
was that Mr. Lee had advanced him 2000 livres before 
he left Paris, had paid his expenses to and at Berlin, and 
informed him when they parted, that no support was to 
be expected from the commissioners, which he had re- 
peated since his return to Paris, as* the sense of the 
whole commission, and that his assuming a public char- 
acter was unwarrantable, which he was advised never to 
do again. Dr. F. was to have it copied for signing. A 
Capt. Wells, who had commanded an American privateer, 
and broke out of — ^ — prison, at Portsmouth, dined with 
Mr. L., and told him that Mr. Deane and Mn Chaumont 


had proposed to employ him in a private concern. Mr. 
L. told him that, as he had for some time been maintain- 
ed at the public expense, his services were due, first, to 
the public ; that the frigates were in want of men, and 
that though he could not get an adequate birth, yet his 
serving as a volunteer would get him a passage to his 
own country, and entitle him to ask for rank in the ser- 
vice. Mr. L. wrote to Dr. F. enclosing him a letter 
from a person who had intimated a desire in the British 
ministry to treat secretly with the commissioners of an 
accommodation. The letter stated that the ministry 
were informed from Paris, that Dr. F. and Mr. L. were 
at variance, and therefore it would be in vain to treat ; 
that their honour must be saved by the overture coming 
from the commissioners, and they must be assured of 
their power to treat, and that the intended terms were 
such as they might accept with satisfaction. The an- 
swer Mr. L. wrote to Dr. F., as what he meant to re- 
turn, was, that the variance did jiot exist, that they had 
neither instructions nor inclination to make overtures ; 
that the honour of the ministry was their own affair, and 
that they who were most in need of accommodating, must 
make such propositions as would be satisfactory. 

N. B. — A letter from Mr. Williams, at Nantes, was 
shown to Mr. L. some days after the receipt, as was the 
custom, to inform the commissioners that the Lion was 
stopped, by an order from the minister. 

17th. Received a letter from Baron Schulenburg, ex- 
pressive of the king's surprise at our having no des- 
patches ; his desire to hear of our success, and an assur- 
rance that the British would not procure any troops from 
Russia, Denmark, or Germany, except recruits for the 
regiments already in America. 

18th. Wrote to Mr. Grand, desiring him to settle with 
the Spanish ambassador, an hour when I might see him ; 
to Mr. Deane, desiring that he would inform those mer- 
chants in Spain who had received prizes, in which the 
public was concerned, to give an account of them to Mr. 
L., as the representative of the public in Spain ; to 
which Mr. D. answered, th^t the prizes sent into Co« 

868 LIFE OF 

runna were of little value, that Cunningbam's vessel was 
half owned by the public, and that he should write to 
Mons. Leogans, at Corunna, on the subject. A letter 
was sent at the same time to the commissioners, desiring 
they would appoint an hour when Mr. L. might meet 
them to settle the letter, and to consider whether it 
would not be proper to send to the dijQTerent ports in 
France and Spain, an admonition to American captains 
not to stopor molest neutral ships. This letier received 
no answer. 

19th. Saw Mr. Grand, who told me that the letter 
for Spain had been given him, that he had proposed 
some alterations, which Mr. D. bad undertaken to make, 
and that it was promised to have been sent him that 
morning to show to the ambassador, but he had not re- 
ceived it. He therefore begged I would hasten it. I 
communicated to him the letter from London, touching 
an accommodation and the answer I intended to write* 

20th. In going to Passy, in order to hasten the letter 
for Spain, I met Dr. F., who told me it was already 
sent, and that it was determined that the despatches 
should go off immediately 6n receiving the king's 
speech. In this determination Mr. L. had no part, but 
in this, as in many other things, they seemed tp like Dr. 
F.'s idea, that the majority formed the commissioners, 
according to the letter, and that therefore it was not ne- 
cessary to ask my opinion. I had before proposed the 
detaining Capt. Young, to carry the speech, and the an- 
swer was that it was unnecessary, as there would be 
other vessels going about that time. Dr. F. appointed 
next day at ten o'clock, to meet at Passy on public 
business. According to appointment, Mr. L. waited on 
the Spanish ambassador, and informed him of his com- 
mission to the court of Spain. His excellency advised 
him to take no step in consequence of it, Until a more 
favourable opportunity, for that business; could be done 
with much more secrecy here than in Spain. Mr. L. 
then desired his opinion about preventing the ill impres- 
sion which the unwarrantable conduct of American pri- 
vateers might occasion in future, much of which might 


be apprehended in the present young and unsettled state 
of their governments. Whether it would be agreeable 
that he should write to all the ports, to warn all Ame- 
rican captains who put in there, not to molest neutral 
vessels. '^The ambassador said he had mentioned that to 
Mr. Grand. That it was now the usage among Euro- 
pean nations, to let an enemy's goods, unless contraband^ 
pass free in neutral bottoms, and the same would be ex- 
pected from the United States. 

21st. Went to Passy, according to Dr. F,'s appoint- 
ment, who was from home, and did not return till be*' 
tween eleven and twelve o'clock. Mr. D. showed him 
the letters relative to the cargo of the Amphitrite, as if 
Mr. Lee had not seen them, and when Mr. L. proposed 
to answer them, Mr. D. said he had already dcme that^ 
in the name of the commissioners, because the express 
was in a hurry and could not wait ; he was unacquainted 
with Mr. Lee's knowing this to be a pretence, as the 
letters had remained a whole day at Passy, and Mr. L^ 
had read them before Mr. D. returned from his amuse-* 
ments in Paris. Dr. F. showed Mr. L. a letter from an 
officer at fiourdeaux, to Mons. de Sartine, containing a 
complaint from the captain of an English vessel, that 
the Portsmouth privateer, Capt. Hart, of Portsmouth, itt 
New-England, that had refitted at Bourdeaux, had madb 
prize of his vessel coming into the River Garonne, and 
sent her away to America. Mr. L. proposed, that iii 
order to quiet the anger this had occasioned at court, they 
should add to their letter to Spain, and present a similar 
request to this court, to have the above privateer seized^ 
if she came into any of their ports. Dr. F. objected to 
it, as subjecting the captain to foreign jurisdiction, wheti' 
he ought to be tried for it in America. Agreed to the^ 
addition of the Spanish letter, and directed it to be' 
copied for signing. Mr. Gerard had called upon Mn li.- 
in the morning, wkh a letter from Cmmt Vergennes, ap-' 
proving of the Spanish letter, provided Count d'Aranda' 
thought it proper, but he said that our prizes could liot- 
be adjudged in their courts. Mr. G. mentioned, at the 
same time, that he had some time since given Dr; F^ tlie 

VOL. I. 45 


864 Lirfi OF 

sketch of a plan for borrowing the two millions, of which 
he had heard nothing since. He had completed the plan 
and went to Passy, to communicate it ; but Dr. F. being 
out he did not. Mr. Lee carried this evening the draught 
of a letter he purposed sending to the ports in-Spain, to 
warn the American vessels from violating the rights of 
neutral nations. 

27th Nov. The commissioners met to consult on their 
despatches to congress. Mr. D. began the discourse ; he 
remarked upon the proceedings of this court, with a good 
deal of ill-humour and discontent, said he thought it was 
our duty to state the whole to congress, that things seem 
to be going very bad in America, they would be less pro- 
vided for next campaign, and more pressed than ever ; 
he therefore was of opinion we should lay before this 
court such a statement as would produce a categorical 
answer to the proposition of an alliance, or satisfy them 
that without an immediate interposition, we must accom- 
modate with Great Britain. Dr. F. was of a different 
opinion ; he could not consent to state that we must give 
up the contest without their interposition, because the 
effect of such a declaration upon them was uncertain ; 
it might be takeii as a menace, it might make them 
abandon us in despair or in anger ; besides he did not 
think it true ; he was clearly of opinion that we could 
maintain the contest, and successfully too, without any 
European assistance ; he was satisfied, as he had said 
formerly, that the less commerce or dependence we had 
upon Europe, the better, for that we should do better 
without any connexion with it. 

Mr. Lee was against any such declaration, lest it might 
deprive them of the assistance they now received instead 
of increasing it. He thought this court had acted uni- 
formly and consistently with their declarations ; that the 
violent things done were of necessity, and compelled by 
the bad conduct of our people ; that we ought to instruct 
those who were going to America to avoid speaking with 
bitterness against this country, but rather to soften the re- 
sentment of others, arising from considering the injuries 
and not the benefits we had received from France ; he 


was of opinion that if the credit of their funds was main- 
tained, all would go well ; he therefore proposed informing 
them that the commissioners had funded two millions of 
Hvres, to pay the interest of what they borrowed, or bills 
drawn upon emergent occasions* This with attention to 
sending the cannon, clothes, &c. which were ordered, 
would, it seemed to him, put them on much more firm and 
respectable ground than ever, and he saw not the least 
reason to despair of success. Mr. D. objected to reserv- 
ing any of the money we received, and to the giving them 
any power fpr money here. He said the court had pro- 
mised to enable them to pay the interest of what they 
borrowed, and that was enough ; for he knew if they 
were allowed to draw, they would never rest, till they 
had drawn for every farthing, and that as we were to 
furnish them with what was necessary there would be no 
occasion for it. Mr. Lee replied, that there was uncer- 
tainty in our supplies reaching them, and it might well 
happen that prevalent as the spirit was of sending ad- 
ventures to America, they might make offers of these 
very necessaries upon the spot, ■ which it might not be in 
their power to pay for in produce, while their ports were 
blocked up, and which they might purchase by bills on 
Europe. Dr. F. appeared to agree with Mr. D. and it 
seemed settled, that they were to trust to the promise of 
the minister, for paying the interest of their debt ; though 
Mr. Lee observed that promise was vague and verbal, 
the minister who made it might be changed, and as it 
did not appear to be the act of the cabinet, it would ne** 
cessarily fall with him, and they will in that case have 
drawn their constituents into the discreditable proceed* 
ing of drawing bills, which must be protested. He 
added th^t it was probable this minister might consider 
the sum now furnished, as a disengagement from his pro- 
.mise, it being much more than the sum stated in their 
estimate as necessary for the supplies. 

The next day Mr. L. went to Passy, when Dr. F. 
showed him the draught of a letter to the committee, but 
some ladies being there, and Mr. D. not attending, he 
told Mr. L. that he would show it to Mr. D. , and if there 

350 LIF£ OF 

were any alterations detenniaed upon^ Mr. L. should be 
informed of it. Mr. L. prepared his separate despatches 
for congress^ and wrote to the Prussian minister at Ber- 
lin, an account which came through London, of the op- 
erations of the campaign, which seemed authentic. Sent 
bills upon Madrid to Mr. Gardoqui, to the amount of 
£70,000, to answer for the shipping ten thousand blank- 
ets immediately, which he was pressed to do without 
delay. Wrote to Mr. Digges, in England, to try to fur- 
nish necessaries to Capt. Nicholson, Johnson, and other 
prisoners to the amount of £50 sterling. 

Dec; 1st, Mr. Moylan was sent to Nantes with the de- 
spatches to go by Capt. Young. After so much delay they 
were required to be signed in such a hurry, that no time 
was given Mr. Lee to read them.. The commissioners 
gaye Mr. Moylan a letter, promising to give him what pub- 
lie business they had to do in the port of L'Orient, provid- 
ed he could connect himself there with some merchant 
able and willing to advance for the public as occasion 
should require. Mr. L. had transmitted to Mr. Gardo- 
qui, at Madrid, an exhortation to the captains of Ameri- 
can armed vessels, which Count Vergennes had approved 
of, against their violating, as was complained of, the laws 
of nations, by taking neutral ships and property, and those 
of the enemy within the protection of neutral coasts. The 
same was afterwards agreed upon by all the commission- 
ers to be sent to the ports in France. Haying received 
informaticm, a Scots spy was sent down to L'Orient by 
the English ambassador ; Mr. L. wrote to Commodore 
Thomson to warn him of it. The commissioners re- 
ceived information that the captain of the Amphitrite had 
been comiuitted to prison by order of government, for 
having carried military stores to America, and that M. 
Beaumarchais had made a formal demand of the cargo as 
his property. Capt. Thomson wrote an account of very 
indecent behaviour to him, by the king's commissary at 
L'Orient* Mr. Williams transmitted to them Capt. Ad- 
ams' affidavit of his having been taken within two leagues 
of Bellisle by the , and carried in a prize, to Eng* 

land. Mr. Lee had written to the Delaps, at Bourdeaux, 


for similar affidavits, relative to captures mtide of Ame* 
rican vessels in sight of the river. Mr. William Lee re- 
ceived information from Mr. Sweigbauser, that the agent 
of the Farmers General demanded the duties on a quantity 
of leadt shipped last year on the public account , and on 
which it was promised that the duties should be remitted* 

4th. Mr. Austin arrived with despatches from congress 
at Yorktown, in Pennsylvania, whither they had remov- 
ed on the evacuation of Philadelphia, of which General 
Howe took possession the 26th of Sept. The express 
left Boston the 30th of Oct* and brought the account of 
the surrender of Burgoyne and his army at Saratoga, 
on the 17th, prisoners of war, after he had been beaten 
out of his camp entrenchments. And of the battle of 
Germantown on the 4th by General Washington, in 
which he was by mistake, in* a fog, obliged to retreat, afr 
ter having routed both wings of the enemy. The com* 
missioners sent immediately an express to Versailles, 
and Mr. Lee wrote to the Spanish ambassador and the 
Prussian secretary of state, an account of this important 

6 th. Mons. Gerard, first secretary to Count Vergennes, 
met the commissioners at Passy. He said he came from 
the counts Maurepas and Vergennes, to congratulate the 
commissioners upon the news, to assure them of the great 
pleasure it gave at Versailles^ and to desire on the part 
of the king any farther particulars they might have. Jle 
was informed that extracts wei^e making from all the pa- 
pers, which should be sent the moment it was finished; and 
Mr. L. promised to send extracts from his brother's let- 
ter, which contained some farther particulars. Mr. Ge- 
rard said they might depend on three millions of livres 
also from Spain, but he believed it woiild be through the 
Havannah and New-Orleans. He said as there now ap- 
peared no doubt of the ability and resolution of the states 
to maintain their independency, he could assure them it 
was wished vthey would reassume their former proposi- 
tion of an alliance, or any new one they might have, and 
that it could not be done too soon ; that the court oi 

868 LIFE OF 

Spain must be consulted^ that they might act in harmo- 
ny, and prepare for war in a few months* Mr. D. bad 
sent Sir G. Grand to Versailles, with Commodore Thom- 
son's complaint, without having shown it to, or consulted 
with Mr. Lee, from whom be also concealed the answer, 
which was a reprehension of the commissary, which he 
transmitted to the commodore himself, without communi- 
cating with Mr. L. ; apparently to have all the graciousness 
of the business to himself. Dr. Franklin undertook to 
draw up a memorial, as Mr. Gerard desired, and Mr. L. 
was to attend next day to consult upon it ; but, though 
so very short and simple, it was not finished till the 8th. 
Mr. L. read to the commissioners a letter he had drawn 
up to Lord North, complaining of the cruel treatment of 
American prisoners, and desiring a person appointed by 
them might be permitted to furnish the prisoners with 
necessaries, and that a general cartel might be settled. 
Some additions were made, and it was agreed to send an 
express with it to London. 

8th. Signed the memorial to Count Vergennes, desir- 
ing an immediate consideration of the treaty that had 
been proposed, and sent it by young Mr. Franklin, with 
extracts from various American papers, relative to the 
operations against Burgoyne's army. Sir G. Grand re- 
marked to us, that in a letter received from Count Ver- 
gennes, he did not style us ^^ vos armis^\ as usual, but 
** nos armis.^^ 

9th. Meeting young Mr. Franklin at dinner^ I asked 
him the answer to our memorial ; none having been re- 
ported to me. He said he was received by the count 
himself with uncommon politeness, who told him an an- 
swer should be sent in two days, and he would then* 
know how much he was disposed to serve the cause of 

10th. Sent a copy of the memorial and extracts to 
Count d'Aranda, with a letter expressing my hopes that 
he would concur in expediting the conclusiom of a treaty. 
Desired Sir G. Grand to mention to Count Vergennes, 
that a commissioner for Vienna and Prussia, one for Spain, 
and one for the grand duke of Tuscany, were here^ and 

ARTHUR L££. 359 

would go to their respective destinations, when this court 
thought it proper. He was also desired to mention that 
a convoy for considerable supplies, we were about to send 
out, would be of great advantage to us. Letters from 
Nantes mentioned that strict orders had been sent down 
thither from government, to prevent the subjects of 
France from sending any goods whatsoever to the Unit- 
ed States, This order appears to have been dated a few 
days before the arrival of the news of our success, with 
' which not only the court, but all Paris, and all France, 
seemed transported with Joy. 

Received a note from Mons. Girard, that the court 
would see the commissioners at Versailles on the 12th, 
at 10 o'clock in the morning. 

11th. Sir G. Grand reported that Count Vergennes 
thought it would not be improper for the commissioners 
to go to their different destinations ; and desired him to 
call on Count d'Aranda, to consult him on the subject. 
Count d'Aranda's reply was, " I have two ways of think- 
ing, one as Count d'Aranda ; the other as the ambassa- 
dor of my court. As the iformer I wish Mr. Lee, in 
whom I have the highest confidence, at Madrid ; as the 
latter I may give no opinion till I receive orders." I 
do not add the many compliments he had the politeness 
to make in my favour to Sir George. But it gave me 
great pleasure to find that he was not offended with me 
as the cause of his being reprehended by his court, as 
the Duke de Grimaldi informed me he was, for not dis- 
suading me from coming to Spain the last time. Mr. L. 
answered a letter he had received from the Prussian min- 
ister of state,. informing him that a commissioner could 
not yet be received in a public character at Berlin, and 
that he did not conceive that any additional light could 
be given to a plan of commerce at present. The an- 
swer was that Mr. W. Lee would not give unnecessary 
trouble, by coming in a private character, but would wait 
till his majesty thought his coming would be of use. 
Mr. L. also enclosed a copy of the extracts relative to 
the operations against Gen. Burgoyne, which had been 
presented to the counts de Vergennes and d'Aranda. 


360 LIFE OF 

1 2tli. My colleagues did not reach Versailles till half 
after eleven o'clock, when, upon sending notice by a 
servant to Mr, Girard, his servant came with a hackney 
coach, and carried us to a house about half a mile from 
Versailles, where we found Count Vergennes and his 
secretary. The minister made us some general compli- 
ments upon the present prosperous state of our affairs, 
and conversed some time upon the situation of the 
two armies. He said nothing struck him so much as 
Gen. Washington's attacking and giving battle to Gen. 
Howe's army. That to bring an army raised within a 
year to this, promised every thing. He asked Dr. F. 
what he thought of the war. He answered he thought 
we should succeed, and the English soon be tired of it. 
Mr. Lee said his excellency might judge what would be 
the event of the war, from observing that the most signal 
successes of the enemy were productive of their greatest 
misfortunes. Howe's advantages on Long Island, New- 
York, and New- Jersey raised a spirit that repelled him 
with considerable loss. The taking of Ticonderoga, and 
rapid progress of Burgoyne, had brought upon him a total 
overthrow. What hopes therefore could there be of a 
war, in which the most brilliant success allured them to 
their ruin. The fact was that nothing but a sense of 
pressing danger and necessity would draw forth the mili- 
tia, in which the real strength of America consisted, and 
which when drawn out appeared to be irresistible. The 
minister took our last memorial from his secretary, and- 
read it. He then desired we would give him the in- 
formation it promised, and any thing we hjid new to 
offer. Dr. F. said that the entering into the treaty pro- 
posed was the object, and that if there were any objections 
to it, we were ready to consider them. The count said, 
that it was the resolution of his court to take no advan- 
tage of our situation, to desire no terms of which we 
might afterwards repent, and endeavour to retract; but to 
found whatever they did so much upon the basis of mu- 
tual interest, as to make it last as long as human institu- 
tions would endure. He said that entering into a treaty 
with us would be declaring our independency, and ne- 


cessarily draw on a war. In this, therefore, Spain must 
be consulted, without whose concurrence nothing could 
be done. In the mean time he would state some objec- 
tionable parts in the proposed treaty. The twelfth arti- 
cle, and an additional demand of the monopoly of the 
trade to the islands of France and Spain, in the West 
Indies, could not be admitted, being an attempt to es- 
tablish a right inconsistent with their sovereignty, and 
which could never be submitted to. Dr. F. said he be- 
lieved the articles were incautiously worded, and that 
congress meant only those islands which might be con- 
quered by their united arms, and ceded by the states to 
their allies. To this it was answered that neither could 
be granted, nor would it be demanded of us should we 
conquer Canada. Besides they had islands enough, and 
no interest in conquering more. Mr. Lee observed that 
it would be so far at least their interest, as it took thenpi 
from the English ; but it was agreed that those demands 
should not obstruct the treaty by being persisted in. The 
next objection was that Spain would not be satisfied with 
the indeterminate boundary between their dominions and 
the United States ; for that the state of Virginia being 
supposed to run to the South Sea, might trench upon 
.California. It was answered that the line drawn by the 
last treaty of peace with England, the Mississippi, would 
be adopted, and would prevent all disputes. For that, 
though its source was not yet known, yet it might be 
agreed that a line drawn straight from its source when 
found, should continue the boundary. This was admit- 
ted, as adjusting the matter properly. The article on to- 
bacco was next mentioned, as what could not be altered^ 
it being formed, and must therefore necessarily rest on 
its present establishment. With regard to the fishery it 
seemed that the concessions proposed were deemed suffi- 
cient, especially after having been informed that the 
source of difference between the French and English 
used to be about the drying-places, which could not 
happen with us, because of the three fairs or fishing 
seasons, two of them were dried upon our own coast, 
and the other was inconsiderable in that particular, the 
VOL. I. 46 


fish being very little cured. It was, too, a first principle 
with us, that fishing was free to alL The conference 
ended with the count's observing that we must consider 
our independence as yet in the womb, and must not en- 
deavour to hasten its birth immaturely. That he would 
despatch a courier to Spain, and it would be three weeks 
before his return. That the order for presenting clear- 
ances for the United States was recalled, and he would 
speak with Mons. de Sartine about giving us a convoy 
for our supplies. The demand of three ships of the line 
was mentioned, to which he answered that this was not 
the moment ; and that, indeed, France had more occa- 
sion to buy than to sell ships. Mr. Lee informed him of 
his having sent a copy of the memorial, &c. to Count 
d'Aranda. He said it was well, and he should see him 
that day. 

13th. Mr. L. informed Sir G. Grand that he was de- 
sired to call upon M. de Sartine about the convoy, on 

14th. Wrote to Dr. F. and Mr. D. to desire their 
opinion relative to the ordering Mr. Gardoqui, at Bilboa, 
to ship immediately to the amount of 500,000 livres of 
naval stores, which he informed Mr. Lee were ready, 
and draw for it on the general fund. No answer. Wrote 
to Mons. Gardoqui to hasten the shipping of blankets. 
Mr. Grand the banker told Mr. Lee, that his brother was 
informed by the commissioners that the government had 
ordered one of their frigates to carry their despatches. 
Mr. L. had not been informed of this. 

15th. Mr. L. having received no answer from the 
commissioners, wrote to them to say that he would be 
with them to consult upon that business at 12 o'clock. 
He had received an abusive answer from Mr. D. to a note 
written at the same time with that on public business. 
Dr. F. answered that he would be at home, and desired 
the letter from Spain might be brought. Upon going to 
Passy, he found the Dr. alone, who declined saying any 
thing upon the business, till they consulted Mr.'D., which 
he said might be in the evening. They were all to dine 
together at the count M.'s ; but Mr. D. sent an excuse, 


and desired Dr. F. and Mr- C. would call o» him after 
dinner, in town, where he had again taken up his lodg- 
ings, reserving those of Passy too, without any notice to 
Mr. L. Dr- F. having asked Mr. L. to go with him, 
they found Mr. D., who informed them that Mr. Girard 
had sent for him to give him information that the frigate 
was ready at Bourdeaux. The convoy w^hich Mr. Sartine 
had agreed to give vv^as one frigate, and this being deem- 
ed too weak, it was agreed to apply to him for more. 
The application was proposed for three frigates, but Mr. 
L. observed that if they should encounter a ship of the 
line and a frigate upon the American coast, they would 
be overmatched, and therefore it would be bettfer to ask 
for one of the line and two frigates, which would be 
equal to any force there was a probability of their meet- 
ing. With great difficulty this was adopted, and a short 
memorial was drawn up for Mr. Sartine, and given to 
Mr. Chaumont to present to him. In talking of the ships 
to be convoyed, Mr. D. mentioned four, and upon Mr. 
L.'s enquiring what had augmented the number from two, 
which were all he had heard of, it appeared that Mr. 
D. had of himself chartered part of two vessels, belong- 
ing to Mr. Montieu, and as he said at five pounds sterling 
per ton, out The Spanish business being discussed, the 
other two commissioners were against giving any money, 
because woollen goods were dearer in Spain than in Ger- 
many, or France, or England. This was not a question 
about woollen goods, but naval stores and tent cloth, 
ready there to be shipped off. This Mr. Lee showed 
them from the invoice next day, but to no purpose ; no- 
thing could prevail to let the public money go any where, 
but in a certain channel. Mr. D. said it would be better 
to ship the naval stores from Sweden directly, upon 
which Mr. L. reminded him that Mr. Hellenais bad last 
year offered to do that, with additional brass cannoui 
from the king's arsenal, he being the king's agent here, 
and stated the terms, which were unobjectionable, and 
yet nothing had been done, though these necessary arti- 
cles might have been now in America, at the cheapest 
possible price, had not his proposal been rejected, with- 

i / 

864 LIFE OF 

out any assigned or assignable reason, but that Mr. L* 
recommended it. Agreed to settle with Mr. Sabastier 
for 7000 more soldiers' uniforms on the 20th following. 

18th. Mr. L. being at Passy, Dr. F. informed him that 
Mons. Girard had been there the day before with a mes- 
sage from the king, and the counts Maurepas and Ver- 
gennes informing them that it was decided in council to 
sign the treaty and maintain the independence of the 
United States, immediately upon the return of the courier 
from Spain, which out of respect for that court they must 
wait for. That if a war with England should be the 
consequence of this, his majesty desired no stipulation 
from the UAited States, but that if they made peace 
without his concurrence, they would not give up their 
independence. He repeated again that his majesty's 
fixed principle was never to desire what they might re- 
pent of having assented to, but to form a connexion so 
mutually beneficial, that it might be firm and lasting. 
It was however his majesty's desire, that this might be 
kept an inviolable secret ; they were ready to begin a 
war, Spain was not, having an immense treasure now at 
sea, her fleet returning in a weak condition, and the treaty 
with Portugal not yet finished. 

His majesty was thanked for his gracious intentions, 
and assured that a conduct at once so generous and wbe, 
would secure the great object he had in view. It would 
have been more decent if the other commissioners had 
sent for Mr. L. to be present at this transaction. Mr. 
Girard alleged the long amity that had subsisted between 
France and the Swiss as a ground for hoping the same 
might take place with the United States. Mr. Carmi- 
chael informed Mr. Lee that he had obtained permission 
from Count Vergennes to go in the frigate which was to 
carry our despatches, and having obtained the concur- 
rence of the other commissioners, desired that of Mr. L., 
which was given. 

On the 20th Mr. L. received a note from Mr. D.'s 
brother, mentioning his design of going immediately to 
America, and upon enquiry he found the system changed, 
and thjit Mr. D. had been chosen to carry the despatch- 


es, and Mr. C. was to go by Nantes. All this was done 
without the knowledge or concurrence of Mr. L. The 
day before it had been settled by all the commissioners, 
that as Mr. L. was to be at Versailles on Sunday, he 
should show Mons. Girard a letter from Capt. Young at 
Nantes, informing them of a British squadron, cruising 
off Bellisle, which prevented him from going out of port; 
together with a letter from Mons.Beaumarchais, demand- 
ing the cargo of the Ampbitrite in payment for the sup- 
plies that went in her, and which were understood to be 
furnished by government as a subsidy. Saturday even- 
ing Sir G. Grand showed Dr. F. and Mr. L. a note from 
Count Vergennes, informing him that the frigate promis- 
ed could not go, but that he hoped to supply another in 
a short time. As it seemed uncertain whether the fri- 
gate for the despatches or that for the convoy was meant, 
Mr. L. proposed to ask an explanation from Mr. Girard 
the next day. 

21st. Mr. L. called at Passy, in his way to Versailles, 
and Dr, F. only being there, he talked over what he was 
to do, and among the rest the eclaircissement about the 
frigate, upon which the Dr. said Mr. D. thought it was 
the frigate for the convoy. 

Mr. L. saw Mr. Girard, and upon communicating what 
is mentioned above, Mr. G. expressed himself much sur- 
prised that there should be any doubt about the frigate's 
going with the despatches, when he had sent the minis- 
ters' despatches to Passy the day before, which he would 
not have done if the vessel was countermanded. He 
desired we would pay no attention to notes written to 
Sir G. Grand, but lo official information. With regard 
to Mons. Beaumarchais, he said not knowing what agree- 
ment Mr. Deane had made with him, they could not judge 
of the propriety of his demand, but that it would be bet- 
ter for Mons. B.- to state his demand, and the ground 
of it, to the commissioners, and upon their sending it to 
Count Vergennes, he would determine whether they were 
to pay it. Mr. L. said he never heard of any agreement 
made with him. As to the English squadron, he said 
he understood that orders were already given for a squad- 

866 LIFE OP 

rcHi from Brest, to form such a line of cruising from Bell- 
isle to the Land's End, as would keep the English at such 
a distance, that the merchant vessels might pass and re- 
pass in safety, from the ocean into the French ports ; it 
being the rule, that the English ships could not cruise 
between the French shore and the French flag. He af- 
firmed, that the note to Mr. Grand was not intended to 
be shown to us. 

The weather being too bad to get to Passy in a car- 
riage, Mr. L. wrote to the other commissioners what had 
passed. He received in answer, from Dr. F., that the 
despatches would go next day at 10 o'clock; and the 
general letter, with duplicates of the agreement for the 
iron cannon, signed by the other two, were sent him to 
sign, which he did, though there were some things in the 
general letter very objectionable; but as Mr. D. seemed 
very desirous of turning the dispute between him and 
Mr. L. into one between Dr. F. and Mr. L., he was 
determined to wink at small occasions of difference. 

22d. Went to Passy. Young Mr. D. not yet gone ; 
gave him a letter for Richard Henry Lee. He said his 
directions were, not to let Mr. Delap know he was at 
Bourdeaux. Mr. Deane being busy, Mr. L. talked over 
with Dr. F. what passed at Versailles, but no reason was 
given for concealing from him, that the government de- 
spatches were received. He was at Passy both Satur- 
day and Sunday. The communication would not only 
have been decent, but would have prevented him from 
asking a ridiculous question of Mr. Girard. In the 
evening Mr. Lee visited Mr. Commissioner Izard, who 
asked him if he had heard any thing of a proposal to the 
oommissioners, within a few days, from England. Mr. L. 
said no. He replied */ then you are ill-treated, and you 
ought to call Mr. D. to a severe account for his conduct; 
for that Paul Wentworth had a meeting with Mr. D., to 
whom he made propositions, which Mr. D. gave to the 
French ministry." Mr. L. said he had not heard one syl- 
lable of it; that he would enquire into it; but that being 
a public wrong, he could not resent it personally. Dr. F. 
had mentioned to Mr. L. both Sunday and this day, that 


Dr. Bankcroft was expected from London, for he had 
written on the 9th, that he should set out in a few days ; 
that he, Dr. F., was therefore apprehensive that he was 
seized. Mr. L. said this was the first time he had ever 
heard of his being in London, and it was a little sur- 
prising such a step should have been taken without his 
knowledge, if Dr. Bankcroft was in any office of trust 
under the commissioners, and if he was not, he could not 
understand why he had access to their papers, and even 
had the key, which Mr. L. had repeatedly asked for in 

23d. Mr. L. went to Passy at 12 o'clock. Dr. F. out, 
and Mr. D. just come in. Nothing ready for considering 
or signing. Mr. L. asked Mr. D. whether a Mr. Went- 
worth was in town, and whether he had seen him.'^ Mr. 
D. said Mr. W. had desired to see him, that he knew 
little of him, and that he expressed a desire for accom- 
modation, and to know upon what terms it could be ob- 
tained, for that he thought the ministry in England were 
disposed to it. This was all he communicated upon the 
subject. Mr. L. mentioned that Mr. Ross had written 
to him for his concurrence in the sale of Cunningham's 
vessel, which Mr. D. had ordered Mr. Hodge to make; 
at which he was surprised, and on the propriety of which 
he could forn^ no opinion, having never seen any account, 
nor been informed of any thing relative to that transac- 
tion at Dunkirk. Mr. D. said Mr. Hodge had given in 
his account, which was not very methodical, but it might 
be seen, when we would examine it. Mr. L. took that 
occasion to mention that Mr. Austin was now here, had 
desired to be employed, and would be a proper person to 
make out their general account, which had been so long 
delayed. Mr. D.'s answer was, he intended to make it 
out himself; and that for the future we must appoint 
some one to execute the orders of . the committee, for he 
did not choose to take the trouble any more. Mr. L. 
said he supposed it was meant to appoint a contractor 
general; but that if they were to pay M. Beaumarchais, 
they would have very little to lay out. To which Mr. 
D. replied, there are three millions to come from Spain. 

868 LIFE OF 

That, said Mr. L., is to be remitted to America. But 
we can draw for it, said Mr. D. 

Mr. Carmichael wa^ at Mr. Deane's. He came and 
dined with Mr. Lee, and mentioned his being deprived 
of going in the despatch frigate, which had been promis- 
ed him. Mr. Lee said he had never been consulted in 
it, nor knew anj reason for it ; that a commissioner's 
brother was certainly entitled to the preference in car- 
rying the {despatches, but he did not comprehend why 
that should prevent another gentleman from going. Mr. 
Franklin the younger, put into Mr. Lee's hands a letter 
from Mr. Carmichael, dated Dec. 2 1st, informing him 
that he had given in his account to Mr. D. of the money 
disbursed on the public account. 

24th. Mr. D. having mentioned that there were letters 
which pressed for answers, it was agreed to meet next 
day for that business. When Mr. Lee went accordingly 
to Passy, he found Mons. de Beaumarchais and Dr. F., 
Mr. D. not coming, nor sending any excuse. Mons. de B. 
came to demand the cargo of the Amphitrite as his due, 
for the freight which he had paid out and home. He 
grounded his demand upon an agreement signed by Mr. 
Deane, styling himself agent for congress, before we 
were appointed commissioners ; and upon his repeated 
assurances that remittances should be made to reimburse 
him. The agreement he showed us. Dr. F. and Mr. 
L. assured him that there was nothing they wished more, 
than to do justice to him; that the cargo of the Amphi- 
trite had been consigned to them, and they had according- 
ly ordered it to be sold, before they knew of his claim, 
for that Mr. D. had never informed them of any agree- 
ment he had made, and this was the first moment they 
knew of the paper he now showed them ; upon which, 
it being clear that his claim was good, they would imme- 
diately order the cargo into his hands, which they did ac- 
cordingly. M. Beaumarchais showed them Barrard's 
letters, in whose hands the cargo was put, informing him 
of his having drawn upon him for the remainder of the 
freight, and that the commissioners had ordered hinr to 
apply the proceeds of the cargo to reimburse himself for 

ARTHUR LE£. 369 

money laid out on two continental frigates. The coot* 
roissioners declared that they had given no such order, 
nor had any reason to expect there would be any charge 
for the frigates, as the captain had told them the amount 
of the prizes would be more than sufficient to pay for 
their repairs. Mr. B. desired a day might be appointed 
to prove his demands upon us, for the supplies sent in the 
Amphitrite, Seine, &c. &c. He said they were bought 
with bis money; that he received repeated assurance^ 
from Mr. D. of returns being made, but had received 
none; and the only one, the cargo of the Amphitrite, had 
been denied him. He had sent over his account there- 
fore to congress, and a person to solicit the payment of 
it, being on the edge of bankruptcy for his zeal and ser-* 
vices in our cause. The commissioners answered that 
Mr. D. was under no appointment from congress till they 
came ; that he never informed them of any agreeinent or 
assurances made, not even on the receipt of his last let-* 
ter, but suffered them to remain in total darkness about 
the whole, which they would be glad to have cleared up. 
That they had on the contrary repeatedly understood, 
that they were not answerable for those supplies, and had 
so informed congress. Tuesday was appointed for an 
explanation of all this. Mr. D. not coming, no business 
was done. 

25th. Received a note from Mr. D. in the morning, 
saying business had prevented him from attending the 
day before, but^ that he would attend to-day. Mr. L. 
answered, that he would attend at 1 2 o'clock. When he 
came there he found a letter from Mr. Delap, addressed 
to Messrs. Franklin and Deane, informing them that he 
would send the depositions they had wrote for; and that 
an American captain had been imprisoned at the sugges- 
tion of some of Lord Stormont's agents, who had se- 
duced some of his sailors, and tampered with others. 
The commissioners sent the letter to M. Sartine, and 
Mr. Chaumont was desired to know when the convoy 
would be ready. Capt. Nicholson's instructions were 
deferred for that answer. 

Attending at Passy , Sir G. Grand showed ua a memoire 

VOL. h 47 

870 LIFE OF 

from Capt, Boux, intended for the minister, recommend- 
ing war. Mr. L. asked Sir G. whether Count Vergennes 
did not tell him, that we were not to pay for the stores 
sent by Mr. Beaumarchais ; he replied, yes, when he was 
here last, but now he said he would not meddle with any 
thing done by that adventurer. Company there, and no 
more business done. 

26th. The commissioners wrote to Count Vergennes 
for leave to appeal from the judgment of the court of ad- 
miralty, at Nantes, by which two West India prizes were 
confiscated, and to be restored to the English. 

27th. Mr. L. being sent for to Passy, in the evening 
found Mr. D. alone, who told him he had received 
an answer from Mr. Girard (to whom he had written a 
private letter with that of the public) when he was in 
bed in the morning, by which we were encouraged to 
make the appeal. That not a momept was to be lost, 
but we must send an express to Nantes ; and he propos- 
ed Mr. Carmichael. 1 observed that if the least suspi- 
cion of our design got out, the prizes would be carried 
off before we could stop them. That Mr. C. going down 
was very likely to excite suspicion. That therefore it 
was better to send Mr. Chaumont's servant, who could 
get there much sooner, and might without suspicion de- 
liver a letter to Mr. Montandouine, who, with Mr. Wil- 
liams, were all that ought or could conduct the business ; 
more persons meddling, especially a stranger, was more 
likely to mar than promote the business. Mr. D. replied 
that it was not a business to be delayed upon punctilios, 
and that Mr. C. would give weight to it. Mr. L. said 
that what he proposed was to expedite, not delay; and 
that he considered their letters would have as much 
weight as Mr. C. Dr. F. and Mr. Chaumont coming in, 
the decision was left to them. The Dr. acquiesced with 
Mr. D., and Mr. Chaumont thought as Mr. C. was going . 
down at all events, that he wouW save us the expense of 
a despatch. It was agreed therefore that he should go, 
and imbediately Mr. D. said to Dr. F., he must have 
money, sir; to which the other assenting, 500 livres were 
given Mr. Carpaichael, and a sho^t letter from us, with 






another from Mr. Chaumont, to Mr. Montandouine. It 
came out, that Mr. D. had previously settled the matter, 
and the horses and carriage had been ordered to attend, 
so that consulting me was as usual a mere farce. It was 
indeed clear, that the whole was a plan of Mr. D.'s, to 
make up with Mr. Carmichael, at the public expense, for 
the affront of turning him out of the despatch frigate, in 
favour of his brother.* 

Dr. F. being indisposed, all farther business was put 
off till next morning, when Mr^ D. said he had some- 
thing pressing to communicate from Mr. Girard. 

28tb. Received a note that Dr. F. could not attend, 
and put off the meeting till next morning. Wrote to 
Baron Schulenburg, and to London, about the prisoners, 
and to press for an immediate communication of the plan 
for next campaign. 

29th. Count Lauregais called on Mr. L. and told him 
that Mr. Beaumarchais had said he had a demand of five 
millions from the commissioners, for the stores he had 
sent out. Mr. L. asked the count whether he did not 
recollect being at his chambers in the temple, when Mr, 
Beaumarchais told him the government were to furnish 
cannon, ammunition^ and money, to America; he answer- 
ed that he remembered it perfectly well. Mr. L. desired 
him to go with him to Passy, and inform the other com- 
missioners of it. He agreed to tell it to Dr. F. but not to 
Mr. D. who, he said was too much linked with Mr. B. 
They went to Passy accordingly, and he communicated 
it to Dr. F. Read over some letters from London and 
Nantes. Mr. Ross complained that his letter had not 
been answered. The person they had sent to London 
wrote them that all the great men in opposition, except 
the Duke t)f Richmond, were against the acknowledg- 
ing our independency, and that a Mr. Vansandt had be- 
trayed his letters to the ministry for a bribe of £500; we 
were just going to separate when Mr. L. asked Mr. D. 
what he had to communicate from Mr. Girard. He said 
it was that Mr. G. being directed to form, a plan of a 

* Mr. Williams wrote xa in return, that the ship in question had sailed eight 
iSMjB before. 

ft t 


872 LIFE OF 

treaty on the French part, he wanted to see our powers 
and our instructions, and that the article of binding them- 
selves to assist in taking Canada, could not take place. 
Mr. L. said they had already a copy of their commission 
and of their general instructions, that secret instructions 
were never shown, and ought not to be demanded, and 
that he did not understand settling articles with the min- 
isters' secretaries, in which what they agreed to was 
binding, but not what he assented to, having no authority 
to bind the court. Mr. D. said he was an important man, 
and we must not stop the negotiation by punctilios. It 
was replied, that it was no punctilio, but an essential 
form, from which there appeared no necessity for their 
receding, nor had they power to recede. Wrote to 
Spain to accelerate supplies from Bilboa. Sir G. Grand 
informed th^ commissioners that Count Vergennes had 
directed him to tell us that orders were given for paying 
us £750,000 the I st of February, which should be re- 
peated quarterly, till the three millions were paid. Mr. 
Chaumont said the convoy would be sent to Nantes, but 
the time not yet fixed. 

30th. The commissioners consulted at Passy upon 
what Mr. Deane, who had taken upon himself to go sev- 
eral times to Versailles, and hold conferences with Mr. 
Girard, should answer to the difficulties about iKe eighth 
article of the treaty, which Mr. G. and Mr. D. took to 
be a demand on France to guaranty Canada, Nova Sco- 
tia, Florida, and the adjacent islands, to the United 
States. Mr. Lee observed that the article had two ob- 
jects ; one to prevent France from taking possession of 
any of the places specified, the other to leave them at 
liberty to confederate themselves with the United States. 
This being neither the demand of guaranty nor of pos- 
session, on the part of the United States, he conceived 
iipon re-consideration it would appear a just, necessary, 
and indispensable article. Dr. F. being of the same 
opinion, ^t was settled that Mr. D. should so state it to 
Mr. Girard. Dr. F. and Mr. L. being also of opinion 
that their instructions ought not to be shown, Mr. D. was 
advised to mention so much of them as he judged ne- 


cessarj to remove Mr. Girard's difficulties, but not to put 
the paper into his hand, nor even allow him to cast his 
eye over it. Mr. Chaumont was to accompany Mr. D. , 
The commissioners received a letter from Mr. Williams^, desiring £200,000 more, the half million being 
expended, but no account how. Mr. L.'s situation in 
this affair was extremely, distressing. Endeavours he 
knew had been used by Mr. D. and C. to make Dr. F. 
his enemy, by insinuating that Mr. L. did not wish well 
to Mr. Williams, in whom Dr. F. was wrapt up. If 
therefore Mr. L. refused to agree to the giving him such 
immense sums unaccounted for, it would corroborate 
their suggestions, and operate to their wish upon Dr. 
F.'s mind, already prejudiced. Neither would it prevent 
the money being given, the two others being competent, 
and in the practice of disbursing the public money. Mr. 
D. therefore, by his ready compliance, would make it a 
means of fastening himself more firmly in the mind of Dr. 
F., and of effecting, what was his great object, an irre- 
concilable breach between the Dr. and Mr. L., and yet 
it was a most serious consideration, that a young man, 
without a shilling of property, was thus in a few months 
to be entrusted with upwards of a million of livres of the 
public money, of which all the account rendered was, ' 
that he had expended it. 

3) St. Neither went to nor heard from Passy. Wrote 
letters to the governor and some of the council of Vir- 
ginia, and sent the resolution of congress for giving 
British vessels and cargoes betrayed by their crew to 
them, in return for a similar practice on the part of the 
government of Great Britain, with directions to have it 
communicated to all the British crews at Dunkirk. 

1st January 1778. Being at Passy, I mentioned to 
Dr. Franklin that Mr. Stephenson was going to America, 
and wished to carry our despatches, and that I knew 
him well, to be a trusty and respectable man. Dr. F. 
said it was very well ; he might carry them, and they 
should be glad of it. Mr. D. coming in Mr. L. repeated 
what he said relative to Mr. S., and Mr. D. also con- 
sented. Nothing more passed on the subject. There 

874 LIFE OF 

was some conversation about Mr. Beaumarchais. Mr. 
r D. seemed unacquainted witti any agreement with him, 
\ and Dr. F. expressed his surprise at a mode of proceed- 
ing, by which money was demanded of them for goods 
which they never ordered, ^nd a person sent to congress 
to demand payment for the supplies, which they had been 
repeatedly assured were given, and for which they had 
returned their thanks, and apprised congress of that as- 

5th. Closed and delivered the despatches to Mr. Ste- 
phenson, who informed him that in answer to a letter 
from him to all the commissioners, Dr. F. and Mr. D. 
had wrote him that they never said he should carry the 
despatches, for that they had engaged Mr. Carmichael to 
do it. To this he replied, that Mr. L. had told him so, 
and he had understood the same from Mr. D. 

6th. Went to Passy, where he found Dr. F., but Mr. 
D. did not attend. The servant that accompanied Mr. 
Simeon Deane, with the despatches to Bourdeaux, was 
returned, but the Dr. said he had not seen him. The 
Dr. told him Sir Phil. Gibbes had been there to sound 
faim about propositions of peace, to which be replied we 
had none to make, the many which congress had made 
were treated with contempt, and that the dependency of 
the colonies was gone forever, like the clouds of last 
year. Mr. L. said, in his opinion, propositions might be 
made, and those very concise ; pay us for the damage you 
have wantonly done us, and let us alone ; these he con- 
ceived were the only terms on which they could hope for 
a cessation of hatred and hostility. In going to town 
Mr. L. overtook Mr. D.'s servant, who had been to Bour- 
deaux, who informed him that the frigate sailed with the 
despatches on jiew year's day. 

8th. Mr. Thornton whom they had sent with the let- 
ter about the prisoners, arrived. He had visited the pris- 
oners, found their situation very miserable, had ordered 
an increase of their daily allowance, and understood that 
both the ministry and the committee of the subscribers 
had ordered them necessary clothing and covering. He' 
said LordlNforth told him he was informed that Dr. Bank- 


croft was in London, and had been sent by the coaimis- 
sioners on a stock-jobbing scheme. Mr. L. said Dr. B. 
was so far from being sent by him on any such errand, 
that he never knew he was gone, till Dr. F. told him he 
had written upon a news-paper that he should return in 
a few days. Dining at the same place with Dr. F., he 
told Mr. L. that the courier to Spain was returned, and 
Mr. Girard had written to Mr. D., who was gone out to 
Versailles. In the evening Mr* L. received a summons 
from Mr. D. ,to meet Mr. Girard, at Mr. D.'s lodgings ; 
when he got there Dr. F. was not arrived. Mr. Girard 
told them that three 74>gun ships, with two frigates, 
under the command of Mons. de la Morte Piquet, a very 
sensible and spirited officer, was clearing the coast of the 
English squadron and cruisers. Upon Dr. F.'s arrival, 
Mr. Girard informed us that he came from the king, and 
the Counts Maurepas and Vergennes. But before he 
delivered to us what he had in charge, he desired our 
parole of honour, to observe the most profound secrecy. 
We each of us promised it ; but Dr. F. added some in- 
sinuation that secrets were not kept on their part, of 
which Mr. Girard took no notice, but went into a some- 
what tedious harangue, which closed with asking us 
three questions. 1st. What would be necessary on the 
part of this court to satisfy the commissioners of their 
attachment to the cause of America, and prevent them 
from listening to the propositions of Great Britain. 2nd. 
What would be necessary to satisfy the congress and 
people of the United States, and prevent them from ac- 
ceding to the propositions which Great Britain might 
send to them. 3d. What assistance would it be neces- 
sary for France to give them. 

The commissioners appearing to think it required some 
consultation before they could give answers, Mr. Girard 
proposed to leave them together, and return in an hour, 
which he did. Dr. F. began to write, and the other two 
to talk. Mr. L. said their instructions seemed to furnish 
them with proper answers. They were sent to negotiate 
a treaty with France, and the immediate conclusion of 
that would answer the two first questions; as the grant- 

876 LIFE or 

ing them eight ships of the line, for which they were 
instructed to solicit, would the last. Mr. D. objected to 
the latter as dictating to them ; to which Mr^ L. replied, 
it could not possibly be deemed dictation to answer a 
question, which they to whom they were sent had asked, 
^in the manner in which they who sent them had directed. 
Mr. Deane then said, that some people had been foolish 
enough to censure their having ordered the sale of pri- 
zes out of the commercial agents' hands, for which 
censure there was not the least reason; and the com- 
mercial agents had protested the bills drawn upon theni 
for the repairs of the Raleigh and Alfred at L'Orient. 
On this Mr. L. observed, that the sale of prizes was the 
only source of funds Avhich the commercial agents could 
have, no remittances being made; and the depriving them 
of the means of paying, and then drawing upon them for 
payment, especially for repairs, which we, not they, had 
ordered, was unmercantile and unjust. Mr. D. was going 
to reply, when Dr. F. said our present business was to 
consider the answers, which he had written down, and 
would read to us. This he did as follows. 

Question 1. What is necessary to, be done, to give 
such satisfaction to the American commissioners, as to 
engage them not to listen to any propositions from Eng- 
land, for a new connexion with your country? 

Answer. The commis-sioners have long since proposed 
a treaty of amity and commerce, which is not yet conclud- 
ed. The immediate conclusion of that treaty will re- 
move the uncertainty they are under with regard to it, 
and give them such a reliance on the friendship of France, 
as to reject firmly all propositions made to them of peace 
with England, which have not for their basis the entire 
freedom and independence of America, both in matters 
of government and commerce. 

Question 2d. What is necessary to be done, immedi- 
ately, so to satisfy the congress and people of America 
with the utility and certainty of the friendship of France 
in securing their independence, that they will also reject 
all propositions from England for peace, inconsistent with 
their independence ? 

ARTHUR L£e« iff 

Answer. The supplying them with money to pay the 
interest of the bills issued and support their credit, will 
give them effectual assurance pf the friendship of this^ 
court ; and the sending them the aid of eight ships of the 
line, which they have desired, would enable them to pro- 
tect their coast and their commerce, and thereby prevent 
the inclinatiob or necessity of listening to terms of accom- 
modation with England. 

To the first answer the commissioners agreed; and two 
to the second, with the addition of the word ^ necessity,' 
proposed by Mr. Lee. But Mr. D. began to object to 
the second, without offering any thing material, when Mr. 
Girard returned. The first answer was read to him, with 
which he professed himself satisfied. As to the second^ 
Dr. F. told him we were talking upon it when he came 
in. He said it was agreeable to him, if we chose it, to 
defer our answer to another time. . He then added, that 
he; was now at liberty to inform us that it was resolved 
to conclude that treaty with us immediately, for which he 
was authorized to give us his majesty's parole. That 
farther, it was determined to enter into another treaty 
offensive and defensive, to guaranty our independency, 
upon condition of not making a separate peace, or relin- 
quishing our independency ; that he had been ordered to 
draw up these two treaties, which he expected to lay be- 
fore the council the next day, and of which he would 
send us copies in a few days. He said the king was not 
actuated by ambition, or ^ desire of acquiring new terri- 
tory, but solely by the desire of establishing the inde- 
pendency of "America. That therefore they could not 
agree to the proposition of assisting us in conquering 
Canada for us, and the English islands for them. Nei- 
ther was it ^their idea of assisting us by land ; and they 
supposed it would not be very agreeable to us to have 
foreign troops in our country. Their aid therefore would 
be by sea. Mr. L. asked him if he thought it proper 
that Spain should be moved at all. He said that court 
had not come to a resolution yet, but this would go on 
alone, reserving to them a right of acceding to the trea- 
ties ; and they believed they could for some time do with- 

TOLv I. 48 


878 LIFE or - 

out them. That if theiV object could be secured without 
a war, it was their wish ; but their resolution was to se- 
cure it at all events. Mr. Girard added, that he was hap- 
py now to congratulate us upon the affair being brought to 
the point he always wished, and he hoped the connexion 
would be as durable, as the terms were mutually bene- 

lath. The commissioners met Mr. Girard by appoint* 
ment, at Mr. Deane's house. He read to them the plan 
of an eventually offensive and defensive treaty of alli- 
ance, which he said it was necessary to make eventual, 
as they would not seem to take for granted, that their 
entering into a previous treaty of amity and commerce, 
was any just ground for a war with England. But as this 
consequence might flow from it, they thought themselves 
justified in providing against it. He gave both this, and 
that of a treaty of commerce, in French, exacting a pro- 
mise that we should return him the originals when we 
bad considered them ; and that they were ready to con- 
clude them as soon as we were prepared. Dr. F. took 
them to consider that evening, and was to give them to 
Mr. D. next day, who was to deliver them to Mr. L, . 
and then they were to meet and discuss them together. 
20th. Employed in copying the treaties, not thinking 
it proper to trust them with a secretary. 

21st. The commissioners met at Passy, and began to 

examine the treaties, article by article. Mr. L. proposed 

that <> sovereign'' should be added to the United States, 

that the acknowledgment of their sovereignty might not 

be matter of future doubt and discussion, as was that oi 

the states of Holland, till the year ](i48, and of the 

Swiss cantons till their late treaty in 1777, with France. 

His colleagues did not think with him, because they said 

congress themselves had not inserted that in the style 

add title by which they had determined to 1>e called 

He then observed that there was no explicit disclaiffler 

on the part of France, to all the continent^ and to the 

islands appertaining to. the fishery, which were pact of 

the British possessions, and which the states daimed in 

the 9tb article. It was also stipulated that if the staK» 

ARTHUR liEE. 979 

conquered them (and not mentioning Cape Breton) they 
should possess them ; but it was not said that France 
should not attempt to conquer them* And there was 
the more reason to suspect some design upon them, be* 
cause there was a formal renunciation of ever possessing 
any part of the continent, but nothing said of the islands. 
Mr. L. thought, therefore, that au^ article should be pre* 
pared, mutually and explicitly renouncing those territo- 
ries, which were pointed out as objects of conquest to 
the respective parties. This they thought right. His 
next observation was that the last article held out a 
temptation to the English to keep the whole force of the 
war upon America, and leave France unattacked, for it 
was only upon the condition of France being attacked 
that she guarantied the independence and possessions of 
the United States. The English, therefore, upon seeing 
the two treaties would naturally say, if we take them 
one by one, or if, by bending our whole force against the 
Americans, we can reduce them, the treaty is void* 
France too on her side wpuld rest secure, that, without 
any risk she would enjoy, under the commercial treaty 
previously concluded, the commercial advantages which 
were all she professed to aim at, which America by her 
own efforts could obtain for herself. Mr. L. thought, 
therefore, that the commissioners ought to endeavour to 
have that article entirely omitted. Dr. F. proposed an 
additional article, which he thought would correct it, and 
that was that France should pay the United States a 
million sterling in subsidy, yearly, as long as the war 
continued against them alone. Mr. L. said that this 
might assist them, but it would not prevent the continu-^ 
ance of the war from being fatal to America, by the de* 
vastation of their country, the exhaustion and vitiation 
of their young people. That without the aid of the eight 
or ten ships of the line, which they were instructed to 
demand, it would be impossible to protect their coasts 
and their commerce, so procure the necessary sup- 
plies, for so heavy a war. Dr. F. said he thought it 
would be for the benefit of America to have the whole 
of the British commerce te prey upon. But Mr. D. was 


tS opiBioa that the American navy was diminishing, ra« 
ther than ^icreasing, and that under the continuance of 
the war solely against them, the necessary supplies for 
constructing a navy could not be procured. To which 
Mr. Lee added that it seemed an attempt disproportioned 
to their infant strength, and more likely to overwhelm 
than to uphold them. In the treaty of commerce Dr. F. 
observed, that in the 4th article the exemption of the pay'* 
ment of extraordinary imposts was confined to his most 
Christian majesty's dominions in Europe, so that in the 
East or West Indies the subjects of the United States 
would be subject to discretionary impositions, and that 
therefore the words ^^ in Europe" should be left out. 
This was agreed to. In the 5th article Mr. L. thought 
there was no reciprocity. Americans were subject to 
pay a duty of 100. sols per ton, if they went from one 
French port to another, which was not and never was 
likely to be the case, with French vessels going from 
one port in the states to another. It was said, indeed^ 
the states might lay such a duty, but till they did it or 
had it in contemplation, the French ought not to do it. 
When the treaty of Utrecht was made there wa^ a simi- 
lar duty op the French commerce in British pons, and 
it was agreed they should be mutually removed. Upon 
the same ground of reciprocity what did not exist in 
the United States, should be removed in the dominions 
of his most Christian majesty. On the 9th article Mr. 
L. observed that the exercise of fishery was given ex- 
clusively to &e French within their own precincts for- 
ever, but .to the Americans not longer than they should 
not admit any other nation ; so that the French were 
permitted to communicate their rights to any other, with- 
out thereby admitting the Americans, but the same was 
not permitted to the people of the United States, which 
was evidently unequal ; it was proposed therefore to 
amend it by substituting ^< aueune des parties contracten" 
tes^^ for " les etats unis.^^ 

22nd. Mr. L. was at Passy at ten o'clock,, agreeably 
to appointment. Mr. D. arrived at 12 o^clock. In the 
mean tune Dr. F. was translating the defensive treaty, 


and his grandson copying the other. It was determined 
that we should return a translation of each with the 
originals, and that we should give in our objections and 
additions in English, and that upon concluding the trea- 
ties the French and the English should be put opposite 
to each other. Dr. F. read the additional article relative 
to a subsidy, to which Mr. L. desired that ships of war 
might be added. Mr. L. showed the other commission- 
ers that the expression in the treaty with the Swiss 
cantons was, ^^ gue h corps Helvetiaue conserve son etat 
actuel de souveraineti absolue, et ae perfaite indipendr 
ance^^^ which be wished might be the guaranty of the 
present treaty, as being most clear and unequivocal. 
Some doubts arising about what islands were included 
in the Gulf of Mexico, they referred to the map, and 
found that a line drawn from the point of Pensacola 
southward included Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. It 
was agreed that the articles relative to the fishery, and 
the islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, must be render- 
ed more explicit, by specifying the respective possessions, 
claims^ and objects, on this subject, so as to prevent all 
cause of future doubt and disagreement. (Some philo- 
sophical discourse arising, Dr. F. said it was his opinion 
that the matter of light was what entered largely into 
the nourishment of vegetables. This opinion I mention 
here for its curiosity, not for its pertinency.) No answer 
to Mr. W. Lee's letter was mentioned. Count Laure- 
gais had informed Mr. L. that young Mr. Hoiker went 
over to America with Mr. Dearie's brother, and it was 
supposed upon some public business. This Mr. L. men- 
tioned to Mr. Chaumont and Mr. D. together, who both 
denied any knowledge or belief of it; In the evening 
Mr. L. went to Versailles where he informed Mr. Gi- 
rard of his having received advice from Bilboa that Cun- 
ningham was in a fair way to compromise the affair of 
the prize. Mr. G. expressed much satisfaction at this, 
because it had given very great offence at Madrid. Mr. 
L. mentioned his doubts about the propriety of stipulat- 
ing in the treaty that France might attempt the conquest 
of Jamaica, lest it should offend Spain, to whom it was 

98S UF£ or 

more properly an object; or of the commissioners for 
this court undertaking to conclude a treaty with Spain 
when there was a plenipotentiary appointed by congress 
for that purpose* Mr. G. said that whenever Spain should 
accede to the treaty, that article or any other would be 
arranged conformable to the harmony and mutual good 
will which subsisted between the two courts, for which 
purpose the express stipulation for their accession was 
entered into. That as to the other it must be arranged 
by the commissioners themselves, but that he thought 
the plenipotentiary for Spain might either sign the en« 
gagement separately or conjointly, specifying his char- 
acter after his signature. He seemed desirous of our 
appointing a day for finally settling it, as soon as possible. 

23d* Went to Passy in the morning, but found Dr. F. 
just going out, the copying not finished, the translation 
ilot begun, and no business to be done. A young French- 
man coming in, Dr. F. sent him into the little room, wh«re 
his grandson was copying the treaty; and Mr. L. going 
in soon after, found the treaty upon the table, and the 
young Frenchman close to it. This is mentioned to show 
how vain it was to enjoin secrecy where there was so 
little discretion. A letter from Mr. Williams mentioned 
that a convoy was ready, and leave for the exit of the Li- 
on, but that she must wait ten days for the spring tides* 
He had been to Brest, and made a very good report of 
the forwardness of that fleet. The commissioners dined 
together, in company with the Duke d'Ossion, ambassa- 
dor to the States General, who had just come from the 
Hague, and gave a favourable account of the prepara- 
tions of the Dutch, and their aversion to hazard any 
more of their money in the English funds. After dinner 
the commissioners had some conversation, when Dr. F. 
desired Mr. L. to draw up an article on the fishery ; but 
he was unwilling on being urged, to fix a day for the final 
settlement of the treaty. He said it was to no purpose^ 
because they would forward it as fast as possible. 

24th. Went to Passy in the evening, as the most like- 
ly time to find them disengaged, but Dr. F. was not ad 
home; his grandson said they had been comparmg the 


French with our plan, but that the copying was not 
finished, nor the translation begun. He observed, that' 
his grandfather's diixing out eVery day prevented any bu- 
siness from being done, and that he was to be out again 
next morning. A very unpromising state of things, when 
boys made such observations on the conduct of their 
grandfathers. Mr. L. had prepared an article, instead of 
those of the ^ stipulated conquest' and ^ renunciation,' in 
which France should unequivocally renounce all the con- 
tinent, and those islands which the United States meant 
to make the parts of their confederated empire, that is, 
the islands of Newfoundland, Cape Breton, St. John's, 
Anticosti and the Bermudas. He left word with young 
Mr. F. for the Dr., that he would be at Passy next morn- 
ing at 1 ] o'clock. 

25th. The consideration of the treaty renewed. The 
great question was upon the 1 1th and 12th articles of the 
commercial treaty. Mr. D. had told Mr. L. that he was 
willing to propose the leaving them both out, but when 
Dr. F. proposed the altering the 12th article to extend 
the prohibition of laying duties on . tobacco^ to all the 
commodities exported from the United States, and con- 
fine the destination to the islands furnishing molasses, he 
agreed with him to let both articleis stand. Mr. L. dif- 
fered. He said, 1st. These articles imposed a confine- 
ment of jurisdiction, contrary to the priuciples laid down 
as the basis of the negotiation, that 'each party should 
be unrestrained within itself. 2d. Tbcfy were going be- 
yond their powers, which directed them to stipulate for, 
but not insist on the exemption of molasses, much less 
to purchase it at an enormous priced 3d. There appear- 
ed no necessity for restraining the impost upon an article 
which was never likely to have any dyty laid upon it, this 
being contrary to the system of their policy. Mf. D. 
answered that it would be a very popular thing in New- 
England, where there was a vast consumption of molas- 
ses, both in food and distillation; that it formed the great 
staple of the commerce of America, and was extending 
very much to the southward, particularly in South Caro- 
liiia^ diat he was suie the iaiport of molasses alone 

S84 LIF£ OF 

amouiited to 100,000 hhds. and was equal in valuB to all 
the tobacco made in America ; that the French seeing the 
advantages we made by the distilling it, and with a view 
to get a vent among us for their brandy, might lay a heavy 
duty upon it, and by that means render the rum dearer 
when distilled with us, than that of their islands, and the 
brandy of old France. Dr. F. supported the same argu- 
ments, but thought the estimate of molasses was much 
too great. He added, with an apparent candour, that 
rather than there should be a dissention, and the treaty 
impeded, he would be of Mr. L.'s opinion- Mr. L., who 
was aware that this was calculated to throw all the con- 
sequences upon himself, of obliging Dr. F. to act against 
his judgment, made no reply ; but on Dr. F.'s desiring a 
resolution might be made, said it was unpleasant to 
him to persist in his opinion, but yet he was so convinc- 
ed of the hazard of the measure proposed, that he could 
not agree to it, and therefore proposed that the other 
two commissiohexs should be consulted with ; that from 
the manner in which they received it, we might judge 
what would be the opinion' of our country; that they 
were gentlemen from the southern states, and extremely 
well acquainted with commerce. This proposition was 
refused, not without considerable appearance of offence 
from it, particularly in Mr. D.,who said it would be very 
extraordinary to call in any body to judge of a thing that 
was left with us, and that he thought he might without 
vanity say, he knew the trade of the southern colonies 
as well as those, or any other gentlemen. Dr. F. then, 
in a certain soft, smooth, accommodaring manner, which 
he can assume at pleasure, said, * well, suppose we just 
propose it, and then say that we are very willing to give 
up both the articles.' As this, from the manner in which 
it was proposed, appeared to be a sort of compromise that 
would prevent any open dissention, Mr. L. desisted from 
his opposition. He did not think it became him to persist 
in his opinion against the judgment of his colleagues, giy- 
eii under an artful endeavour to throw all the consequen- 
ces of it upon him. 
26th. The treaty resumed. It had been proposed bj 

•♦ 5k 


Dr. F., in the 7th article of the defensive treaty, that the 
word * Jamaica' should be left out, as the assembly of that 
island had petitioned against the measures respecting us 
at the beginning, and showed a friendly .disposition to- 
wards us. Therefore, mentioning that island particular- 
ly, would appear ungrateful. This was agreed to, and 
Mr. L. proposed to omit mentioning the word * conquest* 
in the 5th and 6th articles. That the .5th should run 
thus: — "If the United States should think fit to attempt 
. the reduction of the British powers in North America, 
in the islands (specifying them) hear the gulf of St. Law- 
rence, and in the Bermudas, the countries so reduced 
may be confederated with, or dependent upon the thir- 
teen United States." Then in the 6th article it was to 
be any part of the continent, or of the islands in or near 
the gulf of St. Lawrence, or the Bermudas, which were, 
&c. &c. Agreed to in part. 

In the 12th article Dr. F. proposed to insert the word 
" possessions" after " reciprocal guaranty," in order to 
make it appear that in all events they undertook to guar- 
anty our liberty and independence, and that the condi- 
tion went only to the possessions. This was agreed to* 
The other commissioners were then slipping over the 
secret article, in which they stipulated to negotiate and 
sign a treaty with Spain ; but Mr. L. remarked to thejn 
that as there was a deputy plenipotentiary appointed Tor 
Spain, he must stipulate that, and not they who were 
only for the court of France. This observation caused 
some little distress, such as arises when people find a 
thing has happened which they feared, and yet were in 
hopes of avoiding. They sought however for relief in 
our instructions, but it appearing from them that the 
deputy for Spain and those of France were to consult 
together in modelling the treaty with Spain, so as not to 
interfere with that of France ; they were obliged to agree 
that instead of ** deputies" it should be " deputy." Dr. 
F. then read a second secret article which be had pre- 
pared, for stipulating to us an annual subsidy while we 
alone supported the war, which was agreed to, with the 
amendment of " allies and friends" proposed by Mr. L^ 

VOL. I. 49 


He then desired that there might be a demand for eight 
or ten ships of the line, stating that if the whole force of 
the war continued against them, it would be in vain that 
they had money to purchase supplies, since the coast 
would be so effectually blocked up, and most of their 
towns on the coast in the enemy's hands, that it would 
be almost impossible to get in those supplies. Dr. F. 
promised to draw up an article for that purpose. Mr. L. 
then asked whether it was determined to make the com- 
mercial treaty perpetual ; because it was his opinion 
that it would be much safer to limit it, so that if in ex- 
perience any thing was found wrong, it might not be 
without remedy. Mr. D. answered that it certainly was 
intended to be perpetual, for it was so ordered in the 
plan sent by congress, and if it was not so it would be 
desirable to make it perpetual, that there might be no 
power of changing. He added that all treaties of com- 
merce were perpetual; in which Dr. F. agreed with him. 
To satisfy them that it was not so Mr. L. showed them 
the treaty of commerce between Great Britain and Rus- 
sia, which was concluded in the year 1766 for 20 years, 
and he read them the twenty-fifth article which says, 
^^ And as it is customary to fix a certain term to the 
duration of treaties of commerce, the above-mentioned 
high contracting parties have agreed that this treaty shall 
continue for twenty years, counting from the day of sign- 
ing; and after the expiration of that term they may 
agree upon the means to renew and prolong it." Mr. 
L. added that as we were a young and forming people, 
things were undergoing with us frequent changes, which 
in old countries was not the case, and as the treaty was 
drawn up in times of great hurry and confusion, he could 
not help thinking that limiting its duration was wise and 
necessary. His colleagues did not think so, and he 
dropped the question. 

27th. In the evening the commissioners met Mr. Gi- 
rard. He explained his having desired them not to leave 
their carriages at the door, by saying that the last time on 
going out he observed a man who followed him round 
the comer, and looked like a spy. He thought it was 

ARTHUR LE£. 387 

likely that their chariots standing at the door attract* 
ed his curiosity, and led hitn to watch the house. The 
treaty was then entered upon. The commercial treaty 
first In the second article it was agreed to omit 
the words, ** en general et chaque etat pour lui-memey*^ be- 
cause by the articles of confederation no state had a 
right to treat separately. In article third the words, 
^^ de qtielque nature quails puissent etre] et quelqm nom 
quails puissent avoir^^ which were omitted m the next 
and reciprocal stipulation, in behalf of the states, was 
agreed to be inserted. It was proposed in the 4th arti- 
cle to omit the words, " en Europe^^ and extend the ex- 
emption from paying extraordinary duties to all the king 
of France's dominions. But this, Mr. G. said, could 
not be agreed to, as well on the part of Spain, as in- 
terfering too much with the system of their islands. 
The words, " des Etats du Roi,^^ were agreed to be in- 
serted in the place of *J les dits EtatSj^^ which were equi- 
vocal. In article ninth "e* les sujets du RoV^ were 
agreed to be added to " les E. U^ to make the condi- 
tion reciprocal. The alternative was then proposed of 
altering the words, ^^ des Tabacs que les sujets de sa Mor 
jests T. C. pourront tirer des pays et possessions actuelleSy 
ou futures d^aucune des 13 JS. U.^^ in the twelfth arti- 
cle, into " the produce of the United States exported for 
the islands furnishing molasses." Dr. F. added that if 
this was not acceptable it was our wish to give up both 
the articles. Mr. Girard seemed not to like the altera- 
tion, but said it would never be their interest to lay any 
duty upon their molasses, yet he could not himself de- 
termine upon the proposition, which he would mark for 
the consideration of the ministers. Mr. D. took up the 
discourse, and said the exemption of molasses was a 
thing very much desired in America, and would be very 
popular. Though Mr. L. thought this was somewhat 
unfair, it having been settled that Dr. F. should make 
the report of what was agreed to, yet to avoid any ap- 
pearance or occasion of dispute, he made no observation 
on it, hoping from the manner in which Mr. Girard re- 
ceived the proposition, that the alternative of rejecting 

388 LIFE OF 

both would be adopted at Versailles. An explanation 
was next desired, relative to the stipulation at the end 
of the thirteenth article, that it should not aflFect the 
laws of France, ^^ promidgies en France contre les emigra- 
tions, ou que pourront etre promulgies^^'^ which Mr. Girard 
said means that the subjects of JFrance emigrating with- 
out leave and settling in America, should not have the 
benefit of the exemption from the " droit d^aubaine?^ In 
the twenty-seventh article the insertion of the words, 
" le noniy propriety et grandeur des vaisseaux ei ow55t," be- 
tween the words " exprimeront et le nom^^^ was proposed 
and admitted. The words, " suivant les reglemens gene- 
raux prescritSy^ &c. in the twenty-eighth article, were 
explained to mean, such regulations as should be settled 
by a particular convention, which they had found to be 
the best method, and accordingly practised with the 
most favoured nations. This ended the discussion of the 
commercial treaty. 

In the defensive treaty it was proposed that " Souve-- 
ratneti^^ shoufd be inserted after " leur libertP^ in the sec- 
ond and eleventh articles. Mr. Girard thought this might 
be productive of embarrassment to this court, as in any 
quarrel that might happen among the states France 
would be called upon by each side to maintain their sove- 
reignty. It was answered that this related to the sove- 
reignty of the union, and not of particular states, and 
therefore could not produce such a consequence. He 
promised to report it to the ministers. The alterations 
before stated in the fifth, sixth, and seventh articles were 
proposed and seemed to be accepted. In the- twelfth 
" dispossessions^^ was proposed to be added after ^^ la gar- 
antie reciproque^^^ to remove all ambiguity, and prevent 
its being supposed that the guaranty of their liberty, 
sovereignty, and independence depended, as well as that 
of their possessions, on the ev^nt of a war. Mr. Girard 
objected. He said the whole of the treaty was event- 
ual. That they were not to suppose that the entering 
into the former one was a legitimate cause of war, but 
as it might occasion it they had reason to provide against 
that event, upon which all the conditions of the treaty 



must depend* It was intended, he said, to announce 
immediately the commercial treaty to the court of Eng- 
land, and desire their concurrence. If they concurred, it 
was well ; if not the commerce would be protected, and 
any violence offered would be deemed an aggression on 
the part of Great Britain, and produce a war. The rat- 
ification, in the fifteenth article, was prolonged to six 
months. Dr. F. proceeded to the last and secret article, 
in which he said it was desired those should be added to 
it ; not doubting but that the persons employed by his 
Catholic majesty to treat with theirij will do the same 
with regard to any alterations of the same kind that may 
be thought necessary by the deputies of the said United 
States. Mr. G. did not at all incline to admit this, and 
said it was unnecessary, as ^^PegaliU^^ and ^^reciprocitf^ 
were stipulated to be the principles on which any alter- 
ation should be made. Here Mr. L. reminded Dr. F. 
that it had been agreed to mention the mistake in a pre- 
vious part of that article, in which it was stipulated the 
commissioners for this court should negotiate and sign 
the treaty with Spain, which could not be, as there was a 
special commissioner from congress for that court. Dr. 
F. then stated it as a difficulty, and Mr. Deane said the 
word deputies he thought might remain, since, though 
there was one now, perhaps more might be appointed ; 
to which Mr. L. replied that it was not a question about 
deputy or deputies, but whether they were warranted 
to assume the office and duty of another, and that they 
must act upon what really was, and not on a supposition 
of what might be. Mr. L. then showed his commis- 
sion for Spain, and Mr. Girard proposed to insert in the 
separate and recent article, " et le DepuU des E. U. charg6 
des pouvoirs de traitS nvec PEspagne^ promettoitj^^ which 
was agreed to. Dr. F. proceeded to observe, that we 
had on our part two secret articles to propose, but having 
not yet quite settled them, we must take an opportunity 
of sending them for consideration as soon as we had de- 
termined upon them. In the mean time he would just 
mention that the principle they were founded upon was 


890 LIFE OF 

this, the condition of this treaty's having effect was an 
aggression on the part of England, which might induce 
her to bend her whole force against the United* States, 
and avoid that which would procure them the assistance 
of France. It was therefore.thought necessary to pro- 
vide against that course of the business, by a secret stip- 
ulation that while the war continued against the United 
States alone France should grant them an aid in money 
and ships of war. Mr. Girard seemed to thiiik this un- 
necessary. He said he believed the intention was to an- 
nounce immediately the treaty of commerce to the British 
court, with an invitation to accede to it, and information 
of his most Christian majesty's resolution to maintain to 
his subjects the free enjoyment of it. That at the same 
time such preparations would be made and such an army 
collected on the coast as would render it very imprudent 
for England to detach much of her force to America* 
The conference then broke up, and Mr. Girard retired 
after promising to have the points proposed, adjusted, 
and the treaties copied with a blank opposite space for 
the translation, which it was agreed should accompany 
it as soon as possible. When he was gone the commis- 
sioners considered the two additional separate articles, 
drawn up by Dr. Franklin, the one for money, the other 
for ships, and it being their unanimous opinion that de- 
laying the treaties for the discussion of these new pro- 
positions in our critical situation, was likely to be attend- 
ed with more mischief than the postponing them for a 
future negotiation ; it was agreed to drop them at pre- 
sent. A letter was accordingly written to Mr. G., in- 
forming him that we should make no farther proposals. 

Mr. L., upon his colleagues refusing to ask the opinions 
of the other commissioners on the 11th and 12th articles 
of the commercial treaty, had in private proposed the 
question to them, whether they thought the stipulating 
on our part, that no duties should be imposed on any 
American produce exported to the French molasses isl- 
ands, on condition that none be imposed on the molasses 
exported to the United States, was for the interest of 
the United States ? They were so strongly of opinion 


against it, that Mr. Izard would write his sentiments 
upon it to Dr. F., and it was with great difficulty he could 
prevent his brother from doing the same. 

28th. Mr. L. Went to PassTy, where he found Dr. F. 
with his grandson, busy in expediting the copy of the 
translation, which it had been agreed should be sent that 
evening to Mr. D. Mr. Izard's letter on the 12th arti- 
cle, which he had received, was the subject of conversa- 
tion. The Dr. said Mr. I. seemed to have heard all the 
arguments against but none for it. That the letter had 
made no alteration in his former opinion. He seemed 
much out of humour; said it would appear an act of levi- 
ty to renew the discussion of a thing we had agreed to; 
that he had offered at our former conference to be of my 
opinion rather than disagree ; that some years before he 
left America a discovery had been made that molasses 
might be procured from Indian corn stalks, which struck 
Mr. L. as a strong reason against the articles contended for. 
Mr. L. answered that he thought there was a manner of 
proposing their doubts about these articles, without any 
risk of being accused of levity. It was true Dr. F. had 
offered to give up his judgment to that of Mr. L.; but 
when his opinion was asked, he had not done it, and Mr. 
L. did' not think himself warranted to compel him tore- 
sign his judgment, by threatening a dissention if he did 
not; he therefore acquiesced in what he could no longer 
oppose, after he had given his reasons to no purpose. 
Young Mr. Franklin was then copying the treaties to 
be sent with our definitive letter of the 27th, to Mr. Gi- 

30th, Upon considering every thing for and against 
the 12th, article more maturely, Mr. L. viewed it in a 
still more disadvantageous light. He therefore wrote to 
the other commissioners, stating all the objections to it, 
and proposing that it should be stipulated, that congress 
should be left at liberty to ratify or not the 1 itb and 12th 
articles, without affecting the ratification of the rest of 
the treaty. In answer to this he received a card from 
the commissioners next day, informing him that they did 
not agree with him, but that they had written to Mr. 

892 LIFE OF 

Girard to desire both articles might be omitted. This 
they could not but have been satisfied was not admissi- 
ble in the then state of the business, though the propo- 
sition made by Mr. L. most certainly was. The effect 
of it would have been, to show congress that the court 

here was not so attached to the articles, that the not 

• - 

ratifying them would give any uneasiness or create any 
dispute, of which however it seemed the other commis- 
sioners were not desirous of informing them. 

Feb. 2d. The commissioners received an account from 
Mr. Ross, at Nantes, that Mr. T. Morris was at the point 
of death, and if that happened his papers would be seiz- 
ed by the officers of the crown. Mr. Lee went with his 
brother to Versailles, to get an order for the delivery of 
the papers which concerned the public business, to the 
other commercial agent. Mr. Girard said this would be 
done with all possible expedition, if the commissioners 
would present a small memorial for it to the minister. 
They had some conversation about the 11th and 1 2th ar- 
ticles. Mr. G. mentioned, that the ministers were of 
opinion that it would be hazarding their credit with the 
king, and the treaty itself, to make a proposition to him 
for omitting them after a representation to him that they 
were admitted and settled ; that he had written this to 
the commissioners that day, and asked Mr. L. if he had 
not seen the letter. Mr. L. answered, that he supposed 
it had not been received before he came away. He then 
asked Mr. G. whether congress might not ratify the rest 
of the treaty, and reject those articles? He answered, 
without any. doubt th6y might do so, and that there was 
no sort of desire in the court here, relative to the omis- 
sion or continuance of those articles. 

3d. Mr. L. drew up a memoire, desiring an order for 
the delivery of Mr. Morris's papers to Mr. W. Lee, the 
other commercial agent, which the other commissioners 
signed. On the 4th Mr. W. L. waited upon Mr. Gi- 
rard with the memoire, and he promised to expedite it 
with all possible despatch. 

4th. Mr. Deane, who had taken the correspondence 
upon the subject to himself, received a letter from Mr. 


Girard, appointing the 5th for meeting to conclude the 
treaties. When Mr. L. met the commissioners, a letter 
was shown him from Mr. G., putting off the meeting till 
next day, on account of a sudden indisposition. Mr. L. 
mentioned to the other commissioners that the Morocco 
ambassador was soon to leave Paris, and that it would be 
a favourable opportunity to treat with him, by the me- 
diation of this court, especially as there was an interpret 
ter with him, with whom he had conversed, and found 
be understood English extremely well. His colleagues 
seemed to approve of what he proposed, but postponed 
taking any measure upon it. 

6th. Mr. Girard met the commissioners in the evening* 
They read over and compared the treaties. He could 
not agree to the alteration we proposed in the 6th arti- 
cle of the treaty of alliance, as it was meant to leave the 
islands in the gulf of St. Lawrence open to the conquest 
of either or of both ; in the last case on terms to be set^ 
tied when the expedition was planned. The addition to 
the secret and separate article was admitted. Some dif- 
ficulty arose about rendering Mr. Lee's title of Counsel' 
lor at Law into French ; at last it was agreed that Con- 
seiller des droit j came nearest to the meaning of the Eng- 
glish. These things being adjusted, Mr. Girard was 
going to sign, when Mr. Lee, having waited till the last 
moment for Dr. F. to propose it, observed that there was 
a previous ceremony necessary, which was the reading 
and exchanging their powers. Upon this Mr. Girard de- 
livered to them bis powers, which were for each treaty, 
and the commissioners gave him their commission, which 
was all the powers they had. Mr. Girard then sealed 
and signed, and after him Dr. Franklin. They then 
went to the fireside and were talking, while Mr. Deane 
and Mr. Lee were sealing and signing. Mr. D. enquired 
of Mr. L. with apparent anxiety, how he would sign to 
distinguish his two characters. Upon which Mr. L. ask'^ 
ed Mr. Girard whether he thought it would be necessa- 
ry for him to sign twice as plenipotentiary for France and 
for Spain, who said he thought not, but that the charac- 
ters might be added to the signature. Mr. D. then ask- 

VOL. u 50 

894 LIFE OF 

ed Mr, L. how he would word that ? to which Mr. L. 
answered, Commissioner Plenipotentiary for France and 
.Spain; upon which Mr. D. observed, that there was no 
occasion to make this addition to more than the secret 
and separate article. The treaties were committed to 
the care of Dr. Franklin. Mr. Girard, after some mu- 
tual compliments on having happily concluded so im- 
portant a business, took his leave. Before the treaties 
were signed Mr. L. asked Mr. Girard whether he had 
understood him right as having said that congress was at 
liberty to reject the 11th and 12th articles, without af- 
fecting the ratification of the rest ? to which Mr, G. an- 
swered, with an appearance of ill-humour which made Mr. 
L. believe there had been some private insinuations made 
to him since, that he had had the honour of telling Mr. 
L., that as the articles were mutual, and it was endea- 
voured to make them all so, and the basis of the treaty 
was mutual interest, wherever that mutuality was thought 
not to take place, there could be no objection to omitting 
them. And he believed upon a representation of it from 
congress, there would be no difficulty here relative to the 
articles in question, which were assented to from an opi- 
nion of its being a very desirable thing in America. This 
was certainly changing what he had said before ; and Mr. 
L. did not ask him to repeat it from any doubt in bis own 
mind, but that his colleagues might hear it as well as 
himself. And this change seemed so pat to the purposes 
of Dr. F. and Mr. D., who wished to hav^ the whole rati- 
fied by congress, that Mr. L. could not help suspecting 
that Mr. Girard had been secretly prepared on the sub- 

13th. Mr. L. received a note from Dr. F. and Mr. D. 
that they proposed to send away the despatches on the 
16th. This was the first communication from them oo 
the subject. It implied that it was to be the only one, 
and that neither the treaties were to be authenticated, 
nor the letter considered, nor the person to whom they 
were to be entrusted, made known to Mr. Lee. The 
next day Mr. L. went to Passy at the usual hour of meet- 
ing} to see whether, being on the spot, any consultation 


would be had, or communication made. He found Dr, F.^ 
to whom he communicated a conversation between Count 
Maurepasy and Mr. Forth, an English spy and corrupter, 
sent in the character of the king's confidential friend. 
Dr. F. in return entertained him with some very agreea- 
ble philosophical conversation, and they parted without 
one word on the despatches, &c. In the evening Mr. L. 
wrote a letter to his colleagues, to know whether their 
note really meant what it imported, that no consultation 
was to be had upon the despatches. To this they re- 
plied next day, that they were and had been willing to 
consult with Mr. L. on any thing relative to sending 
away the despatches. Mr. L. then sent his secre- 
tary to know when they chose to meet, and when the 
express would go. Dr. F. answered that they would 
meet on the 1 6th at 10 o'clock, and that he was surpris- 
ed at Mr. L.'s asking the other question, as he had been 
before informed the express would go on the 16th. Mr. 
L. then wrote them a letter, stating their conduct, the 
unsatisfactoriness of their notes, and that the sending 
away the despatches without a consultation would be so 
very extraordinary, that he must believe that they would 
be the subject of the morrow's consideration. 

16th. Went to Passy; the commissioners being to- 
gether. Dr. F. read them a draught of a general letter to 
the committee to which Mr. L. proposed four additions. 
Ist. To relate the answer Mr. Girard mad&^to him at 
the conference relative to the eleventh and twelfth arti- 
cles. 2nd. To desire some ^person might be appointed 
to execute the commercial orders, these being inconsist- 
ent with their political character. 3d. To desire the 
farther orders of congress, relative to borrowing money. 
4th. To state that Mr. Beaumarchais' demand of pay- 
ment for the stores sent, did not appear to the commis- 
sioners to be just. To the first it was answered, that 
this would be to call the attention of congress to those 
articles ; that it was uncertain whether the court here 
would wish to have them rejected ; and for these reasons 
it was overruled. Mr. L. repeated Mr. Girard's words 
at the conferencei which were very clear as to the indif- 



ference of this court about those articles, and Dr. F. 
agreed that it was the practice of ratifying powers, to 
omit such articles as they pleased, and ratify the rest. 
On the second, it was said they were of the same opin* 
ion, and had therefore proposed to appoint Mr. Chaumont 
contractor general. Mr. L. said he doubted they were not 
authorized to make any such appointment, which must 
be left to congress. In support of the third, Mr. L. ob- 
served that the situation of affairs was totally changed 
since the passing the order for borrowing money, which 
was in the time of their greatest distress, Dec. 1776; 
the enemy overrunning their country, their bills and 
credit falling, no friends in Europe, no commerce to fur* 
nish them with what was necessary, and all sorts of sup- 
plies wanting ; but now their notes and credit were rising 
fast, the enemy was kept in check, funds were supplied 
us for answering all their demands for supplies, and the 
payment of interest for what they had borrowed ; great 
supplies had been sent and were sending, both by them 
and individuals. Mr. L. stated that the estimate given 
in to the ministry by the commissioners, of the sum ne- 
cessary to pay for the supplies already contracted for, 
and those which must be purchased, amounted to four 
millions of livres. That in this estimate every thing was 
of course highly rated. But there must be deducted from 
it a million for the eight ships of war, which it was cer- 
tainly impracticable to purchase and man, and 600,000 
for the ships in Holland, as they were to be repaid what- 
ever they disbursed. This would leave the sum neces- 
sary at 2,400,000. In their last despatches they were 
informed that the sum on which they were to pay inter- 
est, and which would be drawn for in a twelvemonth, 
was five millions of dollars, 25,000,000 livres, which at six 
per cent, would be 1,500,000 livres. To answer these 
demands they had three millions at quarterly payments 
from this court, with a general promise that the interest 
of the loan in America would be supplied also by this 
court. Three millions had also been promised them 
from Spain. From these considera^ons Mr. L. said it 
appeared to him that there was no necessity^ nor even 


any reason for borrowing money here. He besides 
thought it a very unwise measure for a young state, since 
money obtained so easily was generally expended lav- 
ishly, and involved them in continual difficulties. Mr. 
Deane supported the necessity of borrowing. He said 
the war could not be carried on without it, we must 
have large quantities of naval stores to fit out a fleet, we 
might as well borrow money here as in America. He 
was answered that we were certainly much better pro- 
vided for carrying on the war now than we were last 
year, and it was doubted whether the enemy would be 
able to continue it at all. That it would be much better 
for them to exchange their produce for the stores they 
wanted, than to borrow money to purchase them. Ships 
with adventurers were flocking fast to America, and 
under the patronage of the late treaty there was no 
donbt of America being soon supplied with whatever 
she wanted in the due and ordinary course of commerce. 
Mr. D. observed on this, that there was no produce in 
America to make the exchange. ' Tobacco and rice were 
the only articles of any consequence. This was an 
assertion to which Mr. L. did not think it worth while 
to make any reply. Dr. Franklin then said that they 
must have all the accounts and papers to form a proper 
judgment, that the ministry were pressing for the de- 
spatches, which could . not be delayed a day longer, and 
therefore tkey must postpone this consideration till an- 
other time, when they could have all the papers. He 
was of opinion we might rely on the promise of the court. 
With regard to Mr. Beaumarchais, Mr. Deane said there 
was some mixture of private merchandize with the pub- 
lic supplies, and therefore proposed that we should write 
to have it left to us to settle his account, to which Dr. 
F. agreed ; and Mr. Lee, though he suspected the mo- 
tive of it, perceived it would be in vain to oppose it. 

21st. Mr. Lee had a conference with Count d'Aranda, 
the Spanish ambassador, concerning the three millions of 
livres, which this court gave the commissioners to under-- 
stand, first, were to be remitted through the Havannah, 
which they communicated to congress, and then that it 

398 LIFE OF 

was to be paid here, which had not been done. His ex- 
cellency replied that in consequence of orders from his 
court, he had promised that sum, but how it was to be 
remitted he knew not, nor had he received any farther 
information on the subject. Mr. L. told him that they 
were left in a very uncertain and awkward situation, and 
begged he would write to his court, which he promised 
to do. 

22d. Mr. L. having often urged an application to the 
court to assist them in forming a treaty with the em- 
peror of Morocco, while his ambassador was at Paris, 
it was at last agreed, after much difficulty, that Mr. L. 
should go next day to Versailles, and ask Mr. Girard's 
advice upon it. Next day he went accordingly. Mr. 
Girard said the Morocco ambassador was to quit Paris 
that very evening, and therefore nothing could be done. 
He then entered into conversation about the designs of 
England and France. All her enmity was now excited 
against France. Endeavours were to be used to make 
America join England, and they boasted of having sent 
over half a million of guineas, to secure the point in 
America. That the strictest secrecy on what had pass- 
ed relative to the treaty should be observed till congress 
had ratified it. He said it was a common cause now, and 
France had endeavoured to govern her conduct towards 
us on the most generous and equal rules ; without ex- 
acting any thing from our necessities. That^Le Morte 
Piquet had strict orders not to give way one inch to the 
English, nor suffer any of. his convoy, to be touched ; and 
if upon that ground the English chose to commence hos- 
tilities, France was determined. Dr. F. had apprized 
Mr. L. that morning, of a correspondence he had the day 
before with Mr. G. about advices the court had received 
from London of a treaty that was entering into in Ame- 
rica with England ; but Mr. G. mentioned nothing of 
what had passed. 

March 3d. Mr. L. wrote to the other commissioners 
to know when they would take what he proposed into 
consideration. The moment for pressing it with most ef- 
fect was gone ; but Mr. L. still thought it their duty, and for 


the public good, to endeavour to obtain an avowal of their 
connexion with France. The J^ing of Prussia had ex- 
pressly declared, that he waited for and would follow the 
example of France. Many other powers were probably 
in the ^ame situation. An acknowledgment would open 
and facilitate commerce, and would be both honourable 
and useful to the United States. His colleagues fixed 
upon next day, at 1 1 o'clock ; the same hour that was 
appointed for Mr. W. L. to deliver to Dr. F. the trunk 
containing the late Mr. Morris' papers, sealed and uno- 
pened as he brought it. This was done according to the 
proposal of Dr. F., who refused to examine and sepa- 
rate the public from the private papers, as he had pro- 

4th. The commissioners entered into a consideration 
of what Mr. L. had proposed, relative to their desiring of 
the court to be acknowledged. It was observed by Dr. 
F., that making the treaty public would draw on .the 
acknowledgment as a necessary consequence ; and for 
this purpose he proposed to desire a conference with Mr. 
Girard, which was agreed to, and done immediately by 

.5th. Mr. Girard met us at Passy in the evening. He 
complained to Mr. L. of having cited him to the Spanish 
ambassador, as having told the commissioners that the 
Spanish court bad agreed to contribute three millions li- 
vres, and remit them through Havannah. This he said 
might occasion some misunderstanding between the two 
courts; and that all he had said was, that they expected 
It would be so, and that the Havannah was a convenient 
place; but that the Spanish ambassador would give us 
information of what his court resolved on. Mr. L. an- 
swered, that he had asserted nothing from himself. He 
had only stated to Count d'Aranda, that the commission* 
ers having understood from Mr. Girard that such a sum 
was to be supplied through the Havannah, had given in- 
formation to congress. That since, they had been told 
it was to be paid in quarterly payments here. Of this 
he had also given information to congress. But nothing 
had been received here. This was an embarrassment 

400 t4F£ OF 

from which he begged the Spanish ambassador to relieve 
him. Mr. G. begged that Mr. L. would explain to the 
Spanish ambassador, that it was not an official informa- 
tion on his part, bat only what appeared to him probable 
and convenient. As no such distinction was made, when 
the intelligence was given on which the commissioners 
thought themselves warranted to write to congress, Mr. 
Lee could not undertake to make it now. During this 
conversation, Mr. Deane, who had reported to the other 
commissioners, as coming from Mr. Girard, that the 
money was to be paid quarterly in Paris, from which 
second information the embarrassment arose, and the ap- 
plication to the ambassador, would not confess that he 
was the author of it to Mr. L., but endeavoured to throw 
an imputation on him, by saying that the commissioners 
had mentioned it but slightly in their letter. Yet the 
words of the letter, drawn up by Dr. F. and signed by 
Mr. Deane, were ^^ we are told that Spain will furnish as 
much, but that for their convenience it will be remitted 
in specie through the Havannah." Dr. F. then stated to 
Mr. Girard, that the commissioners considering all cir- 
cumstances, were of opinion that the immediate publica- 
tion of the treaty would be of great advantage, both in 
preventing the acceptance of the propositions from Eng- 
land, and in attaching America decidedly to France. Both 
Dr. F. and Mr. D. pressed the advantages it would give, in 
preventing Holland from contributing to the English loan, 
and promoting that of America; in preventing the bad 
consequences of want of intelligence in America, if their 
despatches should fail, or be delayed; and that the effect 
of it might possibly be, that the English would find them- 
selves obliged to accede to the independency, from their 
inability to sustain a war against the united powers of the 
house of Bourbon and the states of America; and the 
war would be ended at once. But they seemed to doubt 
whether the immediate termination of the war was a 
thing to be desired, or whether it would not be better to 
continue it, till the enemy were driven entirely out of 
America. Mr. Girard said that the publication of the 
treaties was now under deliberation among his majesty V 



servants ; that the great objection was, the uncertaintj of 
its b^ing ratified by congress* For if they should pub-^ 
lish it in £urope, and it should be rejected in America^ 
it would subject France to infinite disgrace, and probably 
occasion a mortal enmity between the two people. This 
was therefore a consequence which they had great re- 
luctance in risking. He was clear the United States 
would never be at peace, till the English were entirely 
expelled irom America. Mr. L. begged him to observe, 
that as it was the wish of the English to prevent a con- 
nexion with France, so it was their policy for that pur- 
pose to affect ignorance of a treaty having been conclud- 
ed, because they knew the hard things which bad been 
done towards American vessels in Fran<;e, would have a 
strong effect on the minds of the people in America, un-* 
less counteracted by some pi^oofs as public, of the amity 
and sincerity of France. For these reasons, as it was 
the best policy of England to conceal the treaty, it would 
seem the wisest measure of France to make it public. 
The concealment most clearly left the field open to all 
the practices of the English to excite prejudices against 
France, and to seduce America by that means into an 
accommodation or an alliance with them. Nothing was 
calculated to counteract this but their private despatches', 
which by a thousand accidents might be delayed or fail. 
The risk of this seemed much greater than that of its be- 
ing rejected by congress after the publication of it here. 
The king of Prussia had pledged himself to follow the 
example of France immediately, and probably many oth- 
er powers were of the same resolution. The commis- 
sioners all agreed, that there was not the least reason to 
apprehend congress would reject the treaty, unless the 
want of intelligence should have laid them under other 
engagements. Mr. Girard professed himself much satis- 
fied with this assurance,* and promised to report the rea- 
sons and desire of the commissioners, which he did not 

deaTOQiug to infiiM. 

VOL. u 51 

49$ LIFE Of* 

doubt would have great weight with the couucil. When 
he was gone, Dr. F. read a letter, which he had just re- 
ceived from Mr. Izard, desiring a copy of the treaty, if 
any one had been proposed or signed, and a conference 
upon what alterations would be proper for his depart- 
ment. Dr. F. said he thought it would be best to have 
copies made out for both the commissioners, and that he 
supposed Mr. Izard could wait a few days, till we knew 
the issue of our application. Mr. D. said he did not 
think it was proper to let Mr. I. into the secret which 
was entrusted to them. Mr. L. answered, that copying 
the signatures and sealing, was by no means necessary, 
and without them they would appear as plans only, which 
would answer the purpose without committing them. He 
proposed that they should answer the letter immediately, 
to satisfy Mr. I. of their attention, and that they would 
comply with his desire as far as was in their power. To 
this the other commissioners made no answer; and appre- 
hending by that the urging it would occasion some dis- 
pute, and perhaps prevent the essential thing from being 
done, Mr. L. did not press it. Next day he sent word 
by his brother to Mr. Izard^ that he believed his letter 
would be complied with. 

8th. Mr. Lee met with Col. Mercer, of Virginia, at 
Mr. Izard's, who declared he had heard Mr. BosviUe, 
who served with the guards in America, assert it as a 
fact, that the Scotch soldiers took an oath under their 
colours, never to spare or give quarter to an American, 
and that they had in consequence of this hung up a 

freat many prisoners to trees in their own belts. A Mr. 
^ringle, who was present, said his brother had seen a 
letter from Sir William Erskine, in which he acknowl- 
edged that what he called the British soldiery had com- 
mitted what were charged upon them as cruelties, but 
he considered them as the excesses of a laudable ardour, 
which ought not to be restrained. 

17th. The commissioners received a letter from Mr. 
Girard informing them that they we're to be presented 
to the king on the 20th, and were invited to dine with 
Count Vergennes. 


20th. The commissioners met at Count Vergennes', 
where all the Americans assembled, and a dinner wa9 
provided for them at the expense of the commissioners 
at an hotel. Mr. Izard and Mr. W. Lee were introduc- 
ed to Count Yergennes, as commissioners of congress for 
their respective courts, and were invited to dine with 
him.. After the commissioners had conversed a little in 
private with the minister, in which Count Vergennes did 
not appear desirous of giving any opinion to which court 
it was the wjsh of France that Mr. commissioner W. 
Lee should make his application in preference ; they 
were led to the anti-chamber of the king, the Americans 
all following them, and after a few minutes they with all 
the crowd were admitted into the king's dressing room, 
where he had a sort of levee, and where they with the 
two other commissioners were presented by Count Ver- 
gennes to the king, who said ^^Je serai, bien aide que le con^ 
gres soit assure de man atnitiSy^^ and then went out. He 
had his hair undressed, hanging down on his shoulders, 
'DO appearance of preparation to receive us, nor any cer- 
emony in doing it. The king appeared to speak with 
manly sincerity. After this they were presented to 
Count Maurepas, Mons. de Sartine, Ministre de la Ma- 
rine, le Prince de Montbarey, Ministre de guerre, Mons* 
Bertin, and Mons. Amelot, two ministers for home af- 
fairs. The chancellor was not in tovvn, and two of the 
ministers not within. I mention this to show how little 
there was of ceremony in the business, or of previous pre- 
paration. The commissioners, accompanied by Mr. Gu 
rard, walked through the streets td their different dwell- 
ings. Between two and three we dined at Count Ver- 
gennes', where there was a grand company of nobility. . 

22d. The commissioners went again to Versailles to 
be presented to the queen. It was with great difficulty 
they could pass through an unordered crowd, all pressing 
to get into tbe-room where the queen was, it being levee 
day. When they got in, they stood a moment in view 
of the queen, and then crowded out again. They were 
neither presented nor spoken to, and every thing seemed 
in confusion. They went next to Mons. and Madame 

404 UF£ OF 

the king's eldest brother, and his wife ; then to Madame 
the king's maiden sister. The youngest brother, Count 
d'Artois, was at this time under a temporary banishment 
from court, for having fought a duel with Duke Bour- 
bon, a prince of the blood. They then visited the chan- 
cellor, whose office is for life, and he is obliged always 
to wear the robe of it. After this they dined with the 
Americans in their suite, at Mons* Girard's. 

(c) Continuation of Extracts from the Journal of Ar- 
thur Lee, kept by him while he was a conunissioner 
of the United States, at the court of France. 

27th Nov, 1 778. Mr Lee got to Yersajlles some time 
before his ..colleagues, and <:onversing with Count Ver- 
gennes upon the proceedings in Holland, the Count made 
this observation, '' The Hollanders must be much embar- 
rassed, for they have no treaty with us, securing to them 
the privileges of commerce ; they are therefore of grace, 
and we may alter them at our pleasure, so that if they 
comply with the desire of the court of London, and alter 
their treaty with England, we will immediately with- 
draw from them those privileges which they have neg- 
lected to secure by treaty." This shows how necessary 
it is for commercial nations to have treaties of commerce 
with those kingdoms with which it is their interest to 
trade, and how unwise it is to leave their commerce thus 
at the mercy of political events.' 

Dec. 4th. In a conference of the commissioners on the 
subject of a memorial to Count Vergennes, drawn up by 
Dr. Franklin, to obtain funds to enable them to pay 
the interest of the loan, Mr. Adams observed, ^< that he 
thought we ought to state the interest France had in sup- 
porting us, how little the expense was in proportion to 
that interest, and not make it a matter of mere graceJ^^ It 
was his opinion, he said, <^ that this court did not treat 
us with any confidence, nor give us any effectual assist- 
ance." Dr. Franklin took it up with some warmth, and 
said <^ he did not see how they were defective ; they had 




sent a fleet and given us money," Mr. Adams replied, y 

^^ that the monied assistance was pitiful, and the fleet had 
done us no service." Dr. Franklin answered, ^' that was 
not their fault, as they took the wisest method of making 
r it useful." Upon this Mr. Lee observed, ^^ that he did 

not know by whose advice the wise method was taken, 
of sending a fleet from Toulon, to be six weeks before it 
could get to sea, in order to surprise Lord Howe in 
America. But it seemed very obvious that if the fleet 
had been sent from Brest, it would have been in Ame- 
rica, in all . probability, before the other was out of the 
straits." The Dr. answered, *^ that the sending it from 
Toulon concealed the design from the enemy ; otherwise 
Byron's fleet would have been out immediately -to stop 
it." Mr. Lee replied, " that it was most notorious that 
the court of England had a daily account from Toulon 
of the preparation and destination of tbat fleet, and that 
what really prevented them from ordering a force against 
it was their not being then prepared ; that if any doubt 
ever existed concerning its actual destination, it was 
whether the islands or the continent were the object, and 
tbat this doubt must have been the same from. Brest as 
(torn Toulon. The passage of the straits was known to 
be generally from four to six weeks ; this gave them 
time to fit out Byron's fleet, and to warn Lord Howe, 
and it was most obvious that this could not but be the 
consequence of advising the fleet to be sent from Tou- 
lon, which was not only frustrating the enterprise, but 
leading our allies into a dangerous situation. Mr. Lee 
then proposed to add to the memorial these words, ^^ We 
flatter ourselves that the great and manifest injuriesi 
which will foUpw to Great Britain, and the advantages 
which must be derived to France, from the establish* 
pent of the independence of the United States, will 
make it appear that the assistmg of them, vvitb these 
essentially necessary means of efiecting it, will be a 
measure of the soundest wisdom and policy, on the part 
of his most Christian majesty." - 

But the Dr. opposing it strongly^ and desiring it might 
be postponed till we saw the efiect of begging it as a fa- 

40« LIFE OF 

vour, it was not insisted on. Dr. Franklin desired to 
know whether Spain had made any farther remittances, 
as Mr. Lee objected to putting in the memorial, <^ that 
she gave us no assistance." Mr. Lee answered, ^* that 
there was reason to believe some had been made through 
the Havannah, but no certainty ; and that a similar sum 
to the former had been remitted to him.'.' 

Dec. 20th. Mr. Lee dined with Count Yergennes, who 
desired Mr. L. to procure for him the pamphlet entitled 
/^ Anticipation," which he said the king desired much to 

A lady of the court, upon the Duke de Chartres tell-- , 
ing her that the Count d'Artois and he had marked the 
ladies down as they came to pay their court, under the 
titles ** Btlks donees et qffretisesj^^ answered, ^^ JIf on. le Due, 
^ocAd ^offfRntendez mieux SK sign^lements^ quj'^l^ signaux,^^ the 
severity of which arose from the duke having been charg- 
ed with not obeying Count d'Oryilliers' signals in the 
action off Ushant. 

Jan. Uth, 1779. We visited the Marquis d'Ossun,who 
was now a minister, and lately ambassadcnr at Madrid, 
and much in favour with the king of Spain. He told 
Mr. Lee that he believed Spain had been prevented from 
declaring by the hope of making peace, but that this win- 
ter would decide that court, and that he had no doubt, as 
we wished; that the Count Florida Blanca and Mons. de 
Galvis, Ministre pour les Indes, were able men, and the 
former would act either with perfect candour or cunning, 
as he was acted with. He promised Mr. Lee every in- 
struction in his power, for his government at the Spa- 
nish court. 

22d. Advices from Holland and England were filled 
vvith the eagerness of monied men to purchase in the 
stocks for the rencontre in May, upon the supposition that 
matters would be accommodated. Great discontent in 
France at their losses, charging them to the alliance with 
America. A person of rank told me at the Dutchess 
d'Anville's, where we dined, that he had reason to believe 
that Mens. Girard Would not stay long in America. He 



said the Duke de Grimaldi had lost all his influence^ 
which made things go on so slow in Spain. 

24th. A gentleman of rank called upon me, and tojd 
me that Mons. Girard was no longer minister in America; 

^ that Chevalier de Luzerne^ formerly minister plenipoten- 

tiary at the court of Bavaria, was appointed to succeed 

I; him. He represented him as a man of abilities, and of 

good principles. He desired me to keep the information 
secret, as it was not yet known at Passy. 

'" 26th. Had a long conversatiop with the minister from 

Florence. He thought our connexion with France had 
ruined our cause, and that we should be obliged to make 
terms with England. I was pf a different opinion. 

He advised the representing the condition of the Unit- 
ed States as desperate, unless France would exert lierself, 

r especially in furnishing money. He said England kept 

Vienna in awe, by threatening to give the king of Prus- 
sia a subsidy, if the court of . V ieqna declared in our fa- 

31st. Dined at Count Sarsefeild's,.with M. de la Lu- 
zerne, the minister nominated for congress; M. Marbois, 
secretary of the embassy ; Mons. de Heredia, secretary of 
the Spanish embassy here ; Mons. Descaranno, secretary 
to that at London, on his way to Rome ; Mr. Izard ; Com. 
Gillon, and Capt. Joiner. 

. Told Mons. de la Luzerne that the sine qua non in 
America was. a large subsidy in money to support our 
funds, without which the war could not be maintained ; 
that he could not do a better thing for himself and the 
public, than be the bearer of such a subsidy. Discours- 
mg with Mons. Marbois, who had been much in Germany, 
he told me that Great Britain was considered the natu- 
ral ally of Austria, and therefore the king of Prussia, it 
might be depended on, whatever might be his temporary 
engagements, would see with pleasure her power dimi- 

|. nished by the independency of America. 

Feb. 3d. Mr. Edward Jenings told me that Count 
Almedovar was exerting himself in London, to obtain an' 
acknowledgment of our independence. 

' April 4th. Count Sarsefeild called on me, and told me 

408 LIFE OF 

he had desired Moos. Descaranno to suggest to his courts 
the necessity of supporting us immediately with twenty 
millions. He told me, as did Mr. Jenings soon after, 
that it was said the court here was going to send a fleet 
of twenty sail to America. I observed, that it was talk- 
ing of what they were to do so long beforehand, that 
frustrated all their plans, and that they would never suc- 
ceed until they talked less and did more; that such a fleet 
ought now to be in America. 

12th. The minister fiom Florence inf(nrmed me that 
the treaty was not signed in Germany, but was sure. It 
was his opinion, that I could not penetrate into the designs 
of Spain better at Rome or Naples than here ; that how- 
ever, neither the French ambassador at Madrid, nor the 
court here, were in the secret; that a courier had just 
passed to London from Madrid, and one had arrived 
here, but what were their despatches was not known. 

Soon after the Count Sarsefeild called on me to inform 
me that he had it from good authority that Spain would 
soon declare ; and advised me. to draw up a short state- 
ment in refutation of Mr. Deane's charges against me, 
that I might give it to Count d'Ossun, which would be 
of much weight with him. 

16th. Visited Mens. Turgot, late minister, and famous 
for his abilities m finance. He was determining the 
freezing point of ice, to make a thermometer. He pre- 
ferred Reaumur's to Fahrenheit's scale, and wondered 
that the English used the latter. 

I told him that finances were what required most of 
our attention now ; that we wanted a system of finance. 
He did not know what a system of finance was ; that he 
had tojd me his opinion was that taxes should be laid on 
proprietors of land only, and that manufactures, con- 
sumption, and commerce ought to be free ; that this was 
the only natural and wise way of imposing taxes, I re- 
plied that there was an apparent inequality in this me- 
thod, which rendered it odious, though in truth the con- 
sumer must repay it at last to the proprietor. He said 
it was a mistake, that the consumer paid the tax, but 
why, he did not explain. 


He was of opinion that all our constitutions of govern- 
ment were bad, because they were planned on that of 
England, which was calculated to guard against tyranny, 
of which we had nothing to fear; that the different mem- 
bers of the legislature were anti-democratic distinctions; 
that democracy required simplicity, and one single corps, 
in which government should reside. 

Supped in the evening with Prince Pigneatelle and the 
Baron, who defended the Dardanelles against the Rus- 
sian fleet. He said he could bring but one gun at a time 
to bear upon the Russian ships, which were commanded 
by Admiral Elphingston, that upon firing some red hot 
balls they retired and would never make the attack 
again, though the walls were so thin and ill-constructed 
that nothing could have been more easy than to have 
battered them down. He said that both the Turks and 
Russians were contemptible beyond expression, that 
eighteen sail of the Turkish fleet got into a little bay 
to avoid eleven sail of Russian ships where they were 
burnt by two fire ships, sent in by the advice of some 
English volunteers on board the Russian fleet ; that th^ 
Russian fleet in its turn cut their cables apd made off 
from the siege of Lemnos, upon the landing of three 
thousand Turks, without a single piece of cannon. He 
said that the vizier having ordered six thousand troops to 
cross over in boats to relieve an island besieged by the 
Russians ; he stated that a Russian ship would sink them 
all without any difficulty, to which the vizier replied, 
<^ no matter, it would be so many rciscab lost." 

23d. Returned Mons. de Ja Luzerne's visit. Found 
Mons. de Marbois, secretary to the embassy only at 
home. He desired me to give them such advice as I 
thought would be useful to them in America. I told 
him that a loan or subsidy was the most necessary thing, 
-and therefore the most useful and acceptable' they could 
do for us ; that we could not carry on the war longer 
upon credit, as our funds were much depreciated ; that 
their prudeht method, as well as most dignified, would 4 
be, not to meddle at all with parties in America, but ^ 
assist congress with good advice; and not embarrass 

VOL. I. 52 


410 LIFE or 

them with memoirs founded upon the factious reports of 
individuals, being a very unjust and offensive suspicion of 
the good faith of congress. 

He answered that from his knowledge of the finances 
here he did not think any money could be obtained ; that 
they understood we were disarming, and yet the most 
vigorous efforts were required on our part to prevent the 
English from falling on us and overwhelming us ; that 
Mons. Luzerne, I might depend, would not concern him- 
self in parties, nor engage in trade and jobs, as Mons. G. 
bad done, with Mr. D. He told me that Mons* de 
Luzerne was endeavouring to get Spain to furnish money, 
for that France could not. 

^ 28th April. Visited Count d'Aussun. We converse4 
about Spain. He informed me that Spain had fifty ships 
of the line well armed, and their finances were in such a 
state that they could support a war for three years with- 
out borrowing. I observed that their .fleet must be very 
expensive ; he said not near as much so as in France and 
England, for such regulations had been established as 
prevented the. king from being cheated. He observed 
that there was no certainty that Spain would declare^ 
but that the campaign must soOn begin, and we should 
see. Conversing about Count d'Estaing, I observed it 
would have been much better had his fleet been sent from 
Brest, as it would have gained six weeks, and the Eng- 
lish being unprepared, must all have fallen into our 
hands. Mons. de Sartine was against sending the fleet 
from Toulon, but he was overruled. I mentioned my 
surprise that the provision fleets from Cork were suffered 
to go without being intercepted, when it was so easy, 
their convoy being always, weak, and which must have 
ruined the ' enemy in America if ttiey had been captur- 
ed; that I had repeatedly given the minister inform- 
ation of it, and yet nothing was done. Mons. d'Aussan 
said, that I should make a memoire of it, and suggest a 
plan for intercepting them. I answered that every sea- 
man knew the latitude for cruising between Cork and 
America. Count Sarsefeild was with os. 
May 1st* Dined with Mons. M^tlesherbes, formerly mi- 

ARTHUR L£E« 411' 

ister, and uncle to Mods, de la Lus^erne. The latter en- 
quired about Mr. Adams, and said he would not go in 
the Alliance, but with him. A letter had been despatch- 
ed to him for that purpose. He also intimated that the 
. Alliance was not going to America. 

Mons. de Malesherbes is a man of extensive reading and 
information. He assured us that there was such a jeal- 
ousy in the canton of Berne, that when a man became 
very rich it was common to persecute him, on some pre- 
tence, and condemn him to pay such a fine as would suf- 
ficiently reduce his fortune ; that they had passed an act 
against entailing lands, or rather bequeathing them to 
the poorest of the name. They were jealous that such 
a provision against want in a family would encourage 
matrimony, and propagation in it, so as to render it too- 
numerous and powerful. 

^ May Sd. Gen. Beckwith, from England, called upon 

me. This was the gentleman who served during the last 
war in Germany with such reputation, and was so high in 
favour with Prince Ferdinand, and at the end of the war 
was recommended, by him to the king of Prussia, who 
gave him the rank of general, and made him governor 
of Embden. He had been in treaty with me in 1776 to 
serve in America, but he would not go unless I would ac- 
company him, and unless he were to have rank above 
Gen. Lee. He told me the troops of Mirb^ck, consist- 
i|ig of 5000, were engaged to go to America. He assur* 
ed me he knew that Prince Ferdinand offered to take the 

' command, but that Lord 's ancient enmity prevent- 

ed him. He said he called to see our minister, Dr. Frank- 
lin, but he W£ls not at home ; that he should go again 

' to-morrow ; that he had a message for him from Mr. Stra- 

han, the king's printer in London ; and had directed Mr* 
Hope, at Amsterdam, to direct his letters to Dr. Frank* 

7th. Gen. Beckwith called on me again. He told me 
that Gen. Gray's manner of surprising Gen. Wayne, was- 
hy a manoeuvre practised in Germany, the making the 
men uncharge, so that they could not fire to give any 

* Dr< FiBoklin wm at thii time oar miiiiiter pleaipotentiftiy ia FVtnce. 

412 LIFE OF 

alarm, but attack with bayonets. He said Gen. Gray 
told 1dm this had been much practised since by the king's 
troops. Gen. Gray spoke highly of Gen. Washington, 
but thought he was nervous by constitution. He said 
that the Americans Were not disciplined, nor the British^ 
Tasked Gen. Beckwith whether he thought there were 
more than ten thousand effective men in Great Britain ; 
he said, hardly so many, for there were only seventeen 
battalions, including seven foot-guards. He said Gen. 
Clinton had repeatedly desired to be recalled ; that a 
commission was gone out for Vaughan to be the second 
in command ; that though Clinton and he were good sol- 
diers, they were not capable of command. Lord Shel- 
bume, he said, would come into the ministry if things 
went ill, and would push the war in America, and would 
employ Prince Ferdinand. He spoke highly of Lord S.'8 
abilities, as the only man in England that would make 

He then desired to speak to me in private. He in^ 
formed me he had opened himself to the French ambas^ 
sador at the Hague, and informed him of his wish to en*^ 
ter the French service, and serve in America. He said 
he had got a letter from him to Count Vergennes, which 
he had delivered ; that the count told him he must cod^ 
suit Prince Montbarey ; that he then informed Dr. Franks 
lin of his desire to serve in America, who assured him 
he would immediately acquaint congress. The general 
asked me if I thought this was a genteel put off, or wbeth* 
er the Dr. had indeed no "power to appoiat him. For 
though in settled governments such powers were only 
in the sovereign, yet in our situation be imagined that 
such a power might be in Dr. Franklin. I told him I 
had not seen Dr. F.'s powers, but that whatever special 
power he might have on that head, I was satisfied be 
could not have a general one.. He said he could not wait 
six months in doubt. » He asked if our generals receiv- 
ed their orders from Gen. Washington, or from con- 
gress. I told him I believed from the latter, through the 

10th. Visited Mons. de Malesherbes, and talked vrith 



him of their letlre de cachet. He said it was ' liable to 
abuse, and was often abused, but that it was necessary 
to supply the defects of the law, and for the great 
against their inferiors; e.g. if my servant is impudent, or 
oflfers to strike me, instead of prosecuting him at law, I 
have him imprisoned by a lettre de cachet. He said when 
he was minister he wanted to regulate their application, 
.but could not succeed. I asked whether the officer, when 
he went to seize a man by virtue of a lettre de cachet^ was 
obliged, on demand, to show the lettre 9 He said no, and 
that made them subject to so much abuse, especially in 
the provinces." 

(c) Supplies for the State of Virginia. 

'^ Vkrsaiixes, Jane 5tb, 1778. 

You will see sir, by the enclosed letter from the Prince 
de Montbarey, and by the statement annexed, that I 
have used the utmost activity in executing the commis- 
sion you recommended to me. If the plan which this 
minister proposes should be agreeable to you it would be 

f roper for you to converse with hi^i, to settle the terms* 
will pirocure you an opportunity of doing it whenever 
you please. 

I shall always be extremely flattered when you fur- 
nish me particularly, opportunities of Rowing my readi- 
ness to serve the United States, and to you sir, the per- 
fect esteem, with which I have the honour, &c. &c.* 

(Signed) D£ Vergennes. 

To Mr. i€€." 

'' Versailles, 13th Jane 1778. 

In consequence sir, of what you requested of the 
Count de Vergennes and of me, I have given the neces- 
sary orders that the artillery you desire should be collect- 
ed at Nantes according to your wishes, and conformable 
to the annexed statement, which I have the honour of 

* The above and following letten are copied fh»m tnnilations by Mr. A. Lee 
f rem the originak. 

414 UPE OF 

sending you. It will require a month at least to collect 
the whole at Nantes. I shall transmit you hereafter an 
account of the price of these articles ; and as to the pay- 
ment, the king authorizes me to rely on your punctuali- 
ty in paying when circumstances will admit. 

I am happy sir, that this occasion furnishes me an op- 
portunity of assuring you of the pleasure I have in trans- 
acting business with you, and of proving to you the re- 
gard and high consideration, with which i hkve the hon- 
our to be sir, &c. &c. 

(Signed) The Prince Montbarey." 

" Paris, May 7tb, 1778. 

To his excellency Governor Henry, of the state of 


Sir, — ^My brother being absent on a negotiation for con- 
gress, at the court of Vienna, when Mr. Lemaire arrived 
here, I have endeavoured to accomplish the purpose for 
which he was sent. Mr. Page will show you the answer 
from the Farmers General, and the enclosed will inform 
you that I have been more successful with the minister 
here, in obtaining the artillery, &c. which is the most dif- 
ficult and material article. Your excellency will see how 
I am pledged on the part of the state,. and therefore will 
I hope use all possible means of sending tobacco, so as» 
to enable me to perform my promise of replacing them 
punctually and speedily. The attainment of future fa- 
vours will greatly depend on this, as Well as the estab- 
lishing such a character as must always be of use to us. 
I had,-^ to make sure of your having this essential article 
of artillery, agreed with a merchant of Cadiz, to send 
you the same quantity directly from Sweden, on condi- 
tion that it should be paid in tobacco, at the current 
price with you, on delivery, the prime cost, with commis- 
sion, freight, ensurance, and other necessary expenses. I 
«hall not countermand this order, because it will make 
you surer of having what the state wants ; and should 
both sets arrive the surplus will serve for your. marine, 
or be saleable. I have furnished Gapt. Lemaire with 
money out of my own pocket to pay his and the pUot's 



ARtHUR LEE. 416 

expenses, and sent him to Strasburg SoUenge, to engage 
the sabres, &c. for the light horse. The pilot is boarded 
in the country, it being dangerous to leave him at a sea- 
port or in Paris. I am so persuaded of the superior excel- 
lence of the Prussian muskets that I shall do every thing 
in my power to furnish you with ten thousand of them. 
The king of Prussia was so gracious as to give orders 
for my being supplied with as mainy as I should require 
out of his own arsenals, at the price he paid, 6f which he 
ordered an account to be sent me. But I am afraid the 
present preparations for war in Germany will either pre- 
vent my having them, or augment the price. The ex- 
hausted state of Great Britain has rendered her unable 
to carry menaces into execution against France, for 
concluding a treaty with us. Before this reaches you a 
French fleet under Count d'Estaing, their best admiral, 
will have arrived to your assistance. The enemy there- 
fore is likely to be blocked up in their turn, for the fleet 
they had prepared under admiral Byron to reinforce Lord 
Howe is stopped, and it is generally thought will not 
sail. This arises, from apprehensions for their safety at 
home. If they do not support their naval superiority 
with you, I think we shall soon have the pleasure of 
seeing them driven entirely out of America. A continua- 
tion of that spirit and vigour with which your a^airs have 
hitherto been conducted must soon accomplish our utmost 
wishes, and secure us in peace, liberty and safety. 

I have the honour to be with the greatest regard and 
respect your excellency's most obedient and most humble 
-servant, Arthur Lee." 

<< Paris, June 15th, 1778. 

To his excellency Governor Henry, of Virginia. 

Your excellency's letter to my brother, W. Lee, of 
the 10th of April, with his commission under the great 
seal arrived here safe yesterday. I have forwarded their 
contents to him at Vienna. The enclosed letters will 
show the endeavours I have used to promote and accomplish 
the most difficult part of Capt Lemaire's mission. Your 
excellency will have the goodness to enable me as soon 

416 UF£ OF 

as possible to discharge the engagement I am under on 
the part of the state, to pa j for the things furnished. I 
should wish the tobacco for that purpose to be consigned 
to my brother, because I cannot so well depend upon an* 
other. By his direction I have put the other articles of 
Capt. Lemaire's list into the hands of Messrs. Penet & 
Co. who have agreed to transmit them as ^eedily as pos- 
sible, upon the terms settled by Mr. King. I hope what 
I have done will be agreeable to you ; and that it wiU 
speedily supply the wants, of our country. As our ene- 
mies appear unable to reinforce their navy employed 
against you, and Count d'Estaing's fleet is stronger, it is 
to be hoped your coast will soon be cleared, by their ships 
being entirely driven away. They are equally unable to 
avenge themselves on our ally here, and will probably 
soon be forced to call home all their forces for their own 
defence. The diminution of their commerce, the dis- 
tress of their people, the imbecility and wickedness of 
their counsels, and the rapacity of their officers, an^ 
nounce the inevitable downfall of their dominatioo, and 
the ruin of their affairs. 

I have the honour of being, with every sentiment of 
respect aipd esteem, your ezcelleiicy's most obedient 
and most humble servant, Arthur Lee.^^ 

To his excellency Governor Henry, of Virginia. The 
same to Governor Johnson, of Maryland. 

Sir, — His excellency the minister of marine to his 
most Christian majesty having signified to the commis- 
sioners here that he was apprehensive the French settle- 
ments at Miguelon and St. Pierre would suffer much for 
want of provisions, unless they were- supplied by the 
people of the United States, your excellency will oblige 
our new allies by directing notice to be given to the in-- 
habitants of your state that they will find a good market 
at those places. 

I have the honour to be with the greatest esteem your 
excellency's most obedient and most humble servaat, 

Arthur Ld$£.^ 


AltTltVK LEE. 417 

<' Paem, Jolj Wtb, )778. 

His excellency Governor Henry^ 

Dear Sir, — 'It was witk the greatest pleasure I learnt 
from Cape. Le Maire's mission that you had at length 
awakened our state to the necessity of putting herself 
into a respectable posture by being well provided with 
warlike stores. I have done all in my power to promote 
a purpose on which her future prosperity and even safety 
so much depend. Though it is not possible to do things 
in this country with the expedition one would wish, yet 
I hope we shall procure in a short time the chief part of 
the supplies demanded. I expect my brother William 
here soon, who will put things into a better train than 
my want of knowledge and other avocations will permit. 

Not having been able to raise any money upon credit' 
for the state, which in this country and at this time is 
extremely difficult, I have engaged to advance as far as 
forty or fifty thousand livres, for those things wiiich in- 
dispensably require it. I have endeavoured to make such 
an agreement with Penet & Co. as will leave you at lib- 
erty to make payment for what they furnish in the man- 
ner most c(Hivenient for the state. 

I have the honour to be, &c. Arthur Lee.'' 

** Cbaillot, June 3d, 1778. 

His excellency Count de Vergennes. 

I have the honour of enclosing to your excellency a 
list of brass cannon, mortars, &c. of which the state of 
Virginia is in the most pressing and immediate want for 
its defence. If they can be furnished out of the rpyal 
arsenals, to be replaced at the expense of that state, it 
will be doing it a most essential service, and a favour for 
which they will be forever grateful. 

As the safest opportunities of sending them will occpr 
JO about tlupee weeks, your excellency will pardon me 
for pressing for these articles to be sent by tnis convey- 

Nothing but the most urgent necessity would induQe 
me to give your excelltpicj this ;extraordinary trouble, 

VOL. u 53 

418 LIF£ dp 

or to trespass so much upon that goodness, of which we 
have already received such substantial proofs. 

I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect and 
esteem, your excellency's most obedient and most humble 
servant, Arthur Lee." 

** Chaillot, Aug. 4tli, 1778. 

Messrs. Penet & Ca 

Gentlemen, — The bearer of this is Capt. Le Maire, who 
by our agreement is to inspect the articles yo|i ship for the 
state of Virginia. You will therefore be so good as to 
give him all necessary facilities for examining smd approv* 
mg the supplies you are to furnish. 

I have the honour to be gentlemen, your most obedi* 
ent servant, Arthur Lee." 

Aug. 21, 1778. 

^^ Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Robert Brooke, the gentle- 
men who will deliver you this, are of a respectable fami- 
ly in the state of Virginia. I shall be obliged to you for 
any civilities you show them; and if they apply to you 
for any money for their expenses, you may with safety 
advance it to them. 

I have the honour to be gentlemen, &c. 

Arthur Lee. 

A Mansrs. Penet fy Decoeter^ 
Negodanta a Nantes. 

P. S. I expect some brass artillery will be delivered to 
you to be shipped for the state of Virginia, which I beg 
you will do on freight as cheap and as well as possible^ 
and if practicable ensure it." 

** Paris, Bept. dd, 1778. 

The Hon'ble John Page, Virginia. 

Dear Sir,— I had the honour of writing to you on the 
24lh August, since which nothing new has happened in 
Europe. You will see by the enclosed account what money 
I have advanced for the state, which was absolutely ne- 
cessary to complete the furnishing of what was wanting; 
besides this I have pledged myself to the government 



here, that the brass artillery, &c. which I prevailed 
upon them to furnish, should be punctually paid for. I 
therefore beg the favour of you to take care that remit- 
tances should be speedily made for this purpose, that I 
may not be left in a disagreeable situation, having exert* 
ed and pledged myself for the service of the state. There 
is a society established here upon the plan of the Society 
of Arts in London ; a correspondence between your so* 
ciety and them might be mutually beneficial, and if you 
approve of it I will endeavour to establish it ; it is called 
the Society of Emulation; and as I have also had the ho- 
nour of being chosen a corresponding member of it, I could 
easily connect the two together. 

The universal disorder of the times makes it very diffi- 
cult to transact business. It is therefore that I have not 
received an answer relative to the great seal, nor the bills 
of lading of the paper desired by the treasury, and which 
I have reason to believe has been shipped from Holland 
for St. Eustatia. 

With great esteem I have the honour to be, &c. 

Arthur Lee.^' 

« Versailles, Dec. 3l8t, 1778. 

I received sir the letter you did me the hcmour to write 
me the 15th of this month, relative to the refusal of the 
director of the arsenal at Nantes to deliver, without an 
order from me, to the agent for Virginia, an essential part 
of the coast carriage, which I directed to be added to 
the rest of the artillery delivered at that place for that 
state. I have ordered that director, agreeably to your 
desire, to deliver the lock belonging to the carriage, with 
its other appendages. You may communicate this to your 
agent at Nantes. 

I am, &c. &c. 

Signed, The Prince Montbarey. 

M. Arthur Lee.'*'* 

*< Versailles, March 27, 1779 

I have communicated sir, to the Prince de Montbarey, 
the letter which you did me the honour to write me the 

49lO LifE OP 

22d of this month. This minister has just mide m« the 
answer which I snbjoin. You will perceive from tbftt, 
that the king wills that th6 warlike stores furnished to 
the state of Virginia, should follow their first destina- 

i have the honour, &c. 

Signed, De YtnGt^nt^. 

Translation of M. de Vergennes's letter to Mr. Lee. 

^ Veksailles, Feb. 16^ 1779. . 

I have the honour of transmitting to you sir, a copy 
of Prince Montbarey's letter, and the note that accompa- 
nied it. You will there see^ that the state of Virginia 
owes to the artillery chest £256,633 75. lOd. for the 
payment of the effects furnished. I doubt not that you 
will take the speediest measures for the immediate pay- 
ment of this sum. 

I have the honour, &c. 

Signed, De VergenN£S. 

M. Arthur Lee.^^ 


«* I annex an account of the sum of £256,633 7s. lOrf., 
which the state of Virginia owes to the artillery chest 
for the supplies furnished them. I shall be obliged to 
you to concert with the deputies of the United States 
for the payment of that sum into the hands of M. Chas- 
til, formerly treasurer general of the artillery, &c. to dis- 
charge the accounts of last year. 

1 have the honour, &c. Montbarev. 

Count Vergennes.^^ 


" Versailles, March 20th, 1779. 

I have communicated to the Prince Montbarey the let- 
ter in which you informed me of the impossibility of the 
state of Virginia paying at present for the artillery which 
his msyesty has furnished them. I subjoin a copy of that 


. ARTHUR LUE. 4tl 

minister's answer, by which you will see what he pro* 
poses to do« 

I hare the honour, &c. 

Signed, De Veroennes* 

M. Arthur Lee?^ 

(Traoslation of Prince Montbarey's lettftr.) 

** I have informed the king of the letter sir, which 
you did me the honour to write me the 21st of last 
month, of the impossibility, as represented by Mr. Lee, 
that Virginia should pay the king the sum of £256,633 
7s. lOd. for the artillery that was furnished from his ma- 
jesty's arsenal. It was not intended to urge this payment, 
but as the passage of these effects was very doubtful in 
the then circumstances, his majesty reserves to himself the 
furnishing them when their passage can be more sure ; 
you will therefore be so good as to apprise Mr. Lee that 
I give orders for their being restored to the king's maga- 
zine at Nantes. 

I have the honour, &c. Montbarey. 

Count de Vergennea?^ 

w Paris, March 22d, 1779. 

To his excellency Count Vergennes. 

I had yesterday the honour of receiving your excellen- 
cy's letter of the 20th, enclosing one from the Prince Mont- 
barey, to inform me of his intention to give orders for 
the re-entry of the artillery and munitions of war, which 
his majesty had the goodness to furnish to the pressing 
wants of the state of Virginia ; and which have been 
shipped at a great expense to the state, as well as to his 
majesty. Events have happened since I had the honour 
of writing to your excellency upon this subject, on the 
16th of Feb., which compel me to beseech you to use 
your utmost influence in preventing this resolution from 
being carried into execution ; as i apprehend nothing 
can be in the actual state of things more detrimental 
and even fetal to the state of Virginia, and consequently 
to the common cause. I mentioned to your excellency 

4e2 LiFt OF 

that immediate] J upon your assurance that these tilings 
would be furnished bj his majesty^ I wrote to inform 
the state of it ; and I have written so repeatedly since 
that there is a moral certainty of 'the information having 
reached them. This, we may reasonably suppose, will 
have prevented them from providing from other quarters 
these necessary articles of defence. We are now cer- 
tain of the enemy's having transferred the war to the 
southern states, and my intelligence from England is 
such tliat I can assure your excellency they mean to push 
the war there, and to invade the state of Virginia as soon 
as they can send out the reinforcements of troops, which 
are now preparing with great diligence. In this situa- 
tion his majesty's goodness in having so readily furnished 
the artillery and munitions required, will, if they should 
be actually stopped, prove, in all probability, the destruc- 
tion of the state, by leaving it defenceless to the enemy's 
invasion. With regard to the risk this furniture runs in 
going at present, which is stated as the reason for recall- 
ing it, I have the pleasure of informing your excellency 
that I yesterday received a letter from Nantes, advising 
me that the convoy was arrived, and only waited for a 
fair wind to sail with all the American vessels at Pain- 
beuf. The vessel, too, in which these munitions are 
shipped, is well armed ; and the state will be obliged to 
pay, as I am informed upon enquiry, in freight and ex- 
penses upwards of forty thousand livres for nothing, if 
the articles are stopped. 

These reasons will I hope convince your excellency 
that my apprehensions of the injurious consequences of 
recalling what was furnished, are well founded ; and will 
weigh with you to obtain the stoppage or revocation of 
the order for their detention. There has lately appeared 
in the London papers an intercepted letter from a tory 
;entleman in Virginia, and I have information that the 
^ritish ministry are in possession of several more of the 
same kind, encouraging an attack upon that state. I 
have no doubt that this Will confirm and quicken the de- 
signs of the enemy, and therefore have additional reason 
for conjuring your excellency to obtain permission for 
the departure of the munitions in question. 

ARTHUR L££« 4&3 

I must beg the favour of being apprised as soon as 
possible of his majesty's ultimate determination. 
I have the honour to be, &c. 

Signed, A. Lee." 

^^ Versailles, May Slst, 1779. 

To Mr. Lee. 

I have communicated sir, to Prince Montbarey the 
letter you did me the honour to write me the 22nd of 
this month. This minister has Just made me an answer, 
of which I subjoin a copy. You wiH there see that the 
king thinks proper that the supplies furnished to the 
state of Virginia should follow their first destination. 

I have the honour, &c. 

Signed, De Veroennes." 

Translation of the copy of a letter from the Prince Mont- 
barey, to the Count de Vergenpes. 

" Versailles, May 26th, 1779. 

I received sir, your letter of yesterday. Upon the re- 
presentation of Mr. Lee, I inform the director of artillery 
at Nantes that his majesty consents to let the supplies 
which were furnished to the state of Virginia, pursue their 
first destination. You will be so good as to inform that 
late deputy of this. 

I have the honour, &c. Montbarey." 


" Paris, April 16th, 1779. 

M. Arthur Lee. 

I received sir, the two letters you did me the hon- 
our to write me the 16th and 30th of last month. You 
therein remind me of the order I formerly gave to ex- 
empt from duties a^ quantity of sabres, shovels, spades, 
and axes sent from Strasburg to Nantes, to go to Vir- 
ginia, and you claim the execution of it. You desire at 
the same time a discharge of the security which the di- 
rectors of the farmers at Nantes, have insisted upon for 
considerable duties which they will have paid on the ex- 

4*4 LIFE OF 

portation of different cannon, mortars, bombs, ball, and 
other like munitions of war, which the king has been 
pleased to furnish to the state of Virginia. I subjoin 
orders for the restitution of the sum paid on the arms 
and other utensils sent from Strasburg to Nantes. As 
to the other articles, I had the honour of informing you 
on the 24th of last August, that the exemption was a fa- 
vour which could not be repeated. You have seen that 
this was founded on principle, and that the king himself 
submits to pay the duties destined for his service. I re- 
gret exceedingly that these reasons prevent me from an- 
nulling the security in question. 

I have the honour &c. Signed, Necker." 


« Paris, AprU 15th, 1779. 

A. M. M. Necker, Controleur General des Finances. 

Sir, — I had the honour of receiving your letter of this 
day's date, containing an order for repaying the duties 
collected upon the sabres, fee. sent from Strasburg to 
Nantes, aud informing me that the engagement for pay- 
ing the duties demandable upon the export of the artil- 
lery and munitions of war, granted by his majesty for the 
state of Virginia, cannot be giveii up. I beg sir, you 
will believe, that it is with infinite regret I trouble you 
again upon the subject. But it is an act of inevitable 
necessity. I have not money to pay the duties engaged 
for, nor in the present situation of things is it possible for 
me to say when any funds will arrive to answer the de- 
mand. The difficulties of finding sailors for merchant 
ships in Virginia are very great; and hitherto where these 
have been overcome, the tobacco has unfortunately fallen 
into the enemy's hands. It is far from being the dispo- 
sition of any of the United States, to distress their friends, 
or press for favours. But in our actual situation, we must 
either deliver ourselves up unarmed to be massacred by 
our merciless enemies, or obtain the necessary means of 
defence by indulgences, which the singular situation of 
our affairs alone induces us to ask. The engagement en- 
tered into by my merchant was unknown to me, till the 
articles were shipped, and the vessel leady to sail. H« 


did it in full confidence that I should obtain a remission 
of the duties. Indeed there was no alternative but ob- 
taining this remission, or stopping the supplies and un- 
doing all that had been done. I did understand from the 
letter I had the honour of receiving from you on the 24th 
of August last, that the exemption then granted on the 
sabres was not to be drawn into a claim of such exemp'* 
tion in future. But that it should operate to preclude all 
the other articles of the same supply, for the same pur- 
pose, and ^ where exactly the same necessity for asking 
an exemption existed, did not then strike me. Nor did 
I then know that there were any duties demandable on 
the export of brass cannon, &c., especially coming from 
the royal arsenals. 

Under these circumstances sir, I am obliged to beg you 
will have the goodness to revise the resolution you have 
done me the honour to send me. I am extremely sorry 
to add this troublesome request to the thanks which are 
due for what you have already granted ; nor can any 
thing be more mortifying than the necessity which com- 
pels it. 

I have the honour, &c. 

Signed, Arthur Lee." 


"Paris, April 26th, 1779. 


I have received sir, the letter you did me the honour of 
writing me the 15th of this month, relative to the artil- 
lery, bombs and balls which the king has been so good as 
to furnish to the state of Virginia, and which have been « 
shipped at Nantes. After the explanation you have made, 
I gave orders to the Farmers General to annul the secu- 
rity given by Mr. Schweighauser. But I beg you will 
be so good as to observe, that a similar favour cannot be 
granted consistent with the laws. 

I have the honour to be, &c. 

Signed, Necker. 

Mr. Arthur LeeJ^ 

VOL. I. 54 


411^ LiFK or 

« Paris, May 2d, 1779. 

To the Hon'ble B. Franklin, M. P- 

By letters this day from Nantes, I am informed that 
the Alliance frigate is manned, and ready to sail; adverse 
winds still detain the American fleet at Brest, with its 
convoy. As that convoy is destined to the French isl- 
ands, it will of course leave those vessels which are in- 
tended for the United States before they reach the coast. 
Yet there it is, that as well from the enemy's cruisers as 
from the multitude of privateers lately fitted out, they 
will run the greatest risk. Not only the public at large 
is highly interested in the safe arrival of this fleet, but 
the state of Virginia depends upon it for supplies essen- 
tially necessary for her defence and preservation. The 
difficulty with which these have been obtained, and the 
impossibility of replacing them if lost, make it of the 
last importance to use every possible means for their pro- 

For these reasons I presume to submit to your consid- 
eration, whether the Alliance can render a more useful 
and acceptable service to our country, than by immediate- 
ly joining that fleet at Brest, and convoying it quite to 
our ports. " 

I have the honour to be, &c. 

Signed, Arthur Lee." 

« Passt, May 3d, 1779. 

Hon'ble A. Lee, Esq. 

Sir, — I did write to the gentlemen at Nantes concern- 
ed in fitting out the vessels for America, offering them 
the Alliance as a convoy, and ordered her to Nantes ac- 
cordingly ; they did not choose to accept that offer, know- 
ing as I suppose her weakness, but sailed for Brest to go 
with the French convoy without waiting her arrival, and 
would probably have been gone long before she could 
have been fitted for sea, if contrary winds had not pre- 
vented. 1 wish your information were true, that she is 
manned, and fit for such service ; it must be from some 
person who is unacquainted with the facts, perhaps Mr. 


Ford; I must suppose the merchants are satisfied with 
the convoy they have put their ships under, as I do not 
learn that they have applied for one more suitable. I 
would readily have solicited such an application, if I had 

' understood it to be necessary, being equally desirous with 

you of their arriving safe, and sensible of the importance 
of it. But I have not received a line from any of them 

, to any such purpose ; and Capt. Landais has assured me, 

that my supposition of his having men enough to fight 
his ship on occasion, in going home, though not enough to 
man prizes on a cruise, was a great mistake in my inform- 

^ er; he then wantejl 150 men, and I have not since heard 

of her having recruited more than 40, with the exchang- 
ed Americans from England. Mr. Ford may probably 
be accommodated in the same frigate that will take Mr. 

I have the honour to be, &c. 

Signed, B. Franklin. 

P. S. I am glad to hear from you, that the supplies 
necessary for Virginia are shipped." 

" Mat 6th, 1779. 

The Hon'ble B. Franklin, 

Sir, — I had not the honour of receiving your answer 
till to-day, though it is dated the 3d. It came by the 
penny-post. It was by Mr. Adams's information when 
on board, that I understood the Alliance had then (April 
29th) a good crew, and I cannot express my concern on 
hearing from you that it is otherwise. The persons and 
properties of so many of our countrymen, the valuable 
merchandize, and the essential stores for the United States 
and for that of Virginia, which are on board this fleet at 
Brest, are of such infinite importance to our country, that 
I cannot help trembling for their fate, since I have lately 
learnt that M.^la Motte Piquet will positively protect 
them no farther than in his way to the West Indies, and 
that our coast swarms with privateers fitted out from 
New-York, Rhode Island, and Augustine. The supplies 
for the state of Virginia were those obtained some time 
ago from the crown, consisting of brass cannon, mortars, 

4t8 LIFE OF 

bombs, and balh The articles which my brother solicit- 
ed your assistance in procuring, are a second order, and 
as necessary for the defence of the state as the first; 
which first only I have fulfilled, except in those articles 
which the house of Penet engaged for, but did not send. 
The gentlemen going to and shipping goods for America, 
I know lamented that their repeated requests through 
the commissioners to the ministry for a convoy quite to 
America, were unsuccessful ; they had waited several 
weeks, and at a great expense, in expectation of it, when 
the commissioners sent them a copy of M. de Sartine's 
final answer to their reiterated appUcations, containing 
these words — " si ceux qui sont actuellement a JVanis ayarU 
destination, pour les Etats Unies, descendent promptemeni 
la Riviere tls seront escortis jusqu^au de la aes caps and 
plus loin encore y c'^est a dire, pendant tout le terns quails 
voudront suivre la route de convoy des Batimens Ftangots 
destinSs pour les Isles de PAmeriquey It was a great mor 
tification to them that the Alliance was not manned, nor 
any certainty when she would be so, which obliged them 
to put themselves under the French West India convoy, 
as the best and only one that then offered. 

I presume then it was not their being satisfied with a 
convoy half the way, that prievented their applying to 
you, since your late appointment, to obtain for them a 
more sufficient one, but their knowing that application 
had already been made by you and the other commission- 
ers without success. It is also probable that their being 
under sailing orders in Brest Koad, deprived them of 
knowing the state the Alliance was in at Nantes; but it 
is most sure, that they would have been extremely hap* 
py to have seen her return to Brest as their convoy. 
They had every reason to expect that this would be the 
case if she got men at Nantes, because you had directed 
them to be informed that you had given orders for her to 
convoy them, which it was understood the want of men 
only prevented. I cannot therefore doubt that the wish- 
es of all the American gentlemen, that the Alliance should 
convoy them, coincide with mine, though circumstances 
have prevented them from being expressed* 


It was from a persuasion of this^ and from an anxiety 
for their safety, as well as for that of the important sup- 
plies that go with them, that I ventured to submit to you 
my opinion of the utility of ordering the Alliance imme- 
diately to Brest, which I still most earnestly wish may 
if possible be done. Most of these gentlemen have al- 
ready experienced the miseries of being made prisoners, 
to which Uiere is too much reason to apprehend they will 
return, if they are left upon our coast without convoy. 
It is a long tinie too since congress has heard from their 
servants in Europe. Mr. Izard and myself have written 
to our constituents, in expectation of our despatches go- 
ing in safety by the Alliance, or under her convoy, upon 
matters in which the public honour, interest, and safety, 
are deeply concerned. I am sorry to have troubled you 
with so long a letter, but out of the fullness of the heart 
the tongue speaketh; and I am filled with the most anx- 
ious concern for the fate of the fleet, if it is to be left 
unprotected in any part of the voyage. 

I have the honour to be, &c. 

Signed, Arthur Lee." 

"N. B. Mr. A. Lee having waited some time without 
receiving an answer to the above letter, on the 1 5th of 
May I waited on Dr. Franklin to know whether or not he 
had received it. His answer was, that he had, but that 
as the ships were then sailed, he did not think it neces- 
sary to make any answer. 

Signed, Ludwell Lee.'* 

" Observation. — ^The ships sailed from Isle Dey, near 
Brest, the 10th of May ; the post is four full days from 
Brest to Paris ; then the date of my letter was eight days 
before the receipt of that intelligence, which it is pre- 
tended made an answer unnecessary. The fact is, that 
the Alliance was ordered immediately to L'Orient, to 
join the private cruisers fitted out by Mr. Chaumont. 
With regard to her not being manned, the Hon. Mr. Ad- 
ams, who wrote that she was, had been on board of her 
for some weeks, had sailed in her from Brest to Nantes, 
and spoke from what he saw; nor is it easy to conceive, 


that if she was manned sufficiently to go upon a cruise, 
she was unfit to go as a convoy, which requires fewer 
men ; since in the latter case she was to fight only ; in 
the former, to fight and man her prizes. A. L." 

(d) Memoire to the French Court. 

" When a conduct of premeditated perjury, shameless 

Serfidy, and unexampled cruelty, on the part of Great 
Iritain during the present war, had so much exasperated 
the minds of the people of the United States that it was 
apprehended they would proceed to retaliation, which if 
once commenced in anger might be carried to extremities 
the most horrible, the congress issued an address, exhort- 
ing forbearance, and a farther trial, by examples of lenity 
and generosity, to recall their enemies to the practice of 
humanity amid the calamities of war. In consequence of 
this, neither the congress of the United States, nor any 
of the states apart, have ever exercised, or authorised the 
exercise of the right of retaliation. Their enemies how- 
ever continued their barbarities, till the issue of war, 
turning against them, put one of their armies, and a mul- 
titude of other prisoners, into the power of the states. 
From that time till lately, their conduct towards those 
citizens of the United States whom they had made pri- 
soners, was less stained with atrocious insolence and in- 
humanity. But since they have found that all the efforts 
and arts of their commissioners could neither intimidate 
nor seduce the congress, nor the people of the United 
States, they have become outrageous, and in that spirit 
have published a proclamation which contains the follow- 
ing brutal menaces, and which they have already begun 
to execute, by desolation and murders, wherever they 
can approach. It is therefore manifestly the enemy's 
policy, to disgust the people of America with their alli- 
ance with France, by convincing them, that instead of 
shielding them from future miseries, it has accumulated 
additional calamities upon their country. To stop the 
progress of these cruelties, and disappoint their purpose, 


the commissioners submit to your excellency's considera- 
tion two measures, which in their opinion are most like- 
ly to answer these ends. 

1st. That the court of France should announce to that 
of Great Britain that unless this declaration of its com- 
missioners is formally renounced, and the cruel method 
of carrying on the war eflfectually stopped, this court will 
join with the United States, in the severest retaliation. 
2nd. That a powerful fleet of thirty or forty sail should 
be immediately sent to the coast of America, to support 
this declaration, and secure a naval superiority over the 
enemy in those seas. The commissioners suggest this 
measure as appearing to them to be the most sure and 
effectual means of distressing the enemy, and destroying 
her commerce, humbling her pride, and reducing her to the 
necessity of suing for peace. Upon this naval superiori- 
ty in those seas must depend the valuable commerce of 
their islands and the islands themselves. The difficulties 
of provisioning a fleet at such a distance, or of repairing 
it, in case of any accident, augment with the number to 
such a degree, that it seems impossible for the enemy to 
support thirty or forty sail of the line in that quarter, 
and therefore, though they are able to meet and even 
out-number Count d'Estaing's fleet, yet against the pro- 
posed augmentation it is conceived they could not con- 
tend. The commissioners hope the speedy assistance 
and reparation received by Count d'Estaing's fleet will 
show the advantages which this country must enjoy in 
carrying on the naval war on a coast friendly to her, and 
hostile to her enemy. And these advantages they trust 
will in future be much more sensible, because the ap- 
pearance of the fleet this time was sudden and unexpect- 
ed, and the last season in that particular part of the 
country was the most unfavourable that has been known 
for many years.'' 




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